Transport drives down total greenhouse gas emissions in 2020

New experimental figures from Stats NZ show New Zealand’s greenhouse gas emissions were down 4.8 percent (3,931 kilotonnes) in the year ended December 2020, largely driven by a fall in transport emissions reflecting the impact of COVID-19 on the economy and society throughout the year.

Despite the strong rebound in emissions in the September 2020 quarter, overall annual emissions fell due to decreases in total emissions in the March, June, and December 2020 quarters.

Emissions were down 1.7 percent in the December 2020 quarter, compared with gross domestic product (GDP) which was down 1.0 percent.

In the December 2020 year, only emissions for the transport, postal, and warehousing industry remained well below pre-COVID-19 levels due to the ongoing border closure. Their emissions were down 38 percent (2,279 kilotonnes), while their GDP also dropped by 26 percent.

Direct emissions from households saw a 5.7 percent (540 kilotonnes) drop over the year ended December 2020. However, after a 23 percent drop in household emissions in the June 2020 quarter (during the national lockdown), emissions increased in both the September and December 2020 quarters. As a result, household emissions reached their highest quarterly level in the December 2020 quarter since the emissions series began in 2014.

Manufacturing emissions fell 10 percent (1,164 kilotonnes) in the December 2020 year compared with the December 2019 year, largely driven by decreases in gas and coal consumption, and a decrease in steel production. By comparison, over the same period the manufacturing industry saw only a 3.1 percent drop in its contribution to GDP.