Our plan to become a zero carbon capital

We aim to reduce the emissions produced in Wellington City to zero by 2050.

Te Atakura – First to Zero

In June 2019, Wellington City Council adopted Te Atakura – First to Zero, which is a blueprint to make Wellington City a zero carbon capital (net zero emissions) by 2050.
This blueprint outlines key activities that can help reduce our emissions in four target areas: Transport, Building Energy and Urban Form, Advocacy, and the Council.

In August 2020, the Council adopted the Implementation Plan for Te Atakura. This plan highlights specific initiatives that can be undertaken to achieve carbon reductions for the city, and provides a framework for measuring their reduction potential and associated co-benefits. This plan will be a living document to help us achieve our reduction targets out to 2050.

Our submission on the Climate Change Commission draft advice (March 2021)

Council have approved a cover letter and detailed submission outlining our feedback on the Climate Change Commission’s draft advice to government. Overall we support the Commission’s advice as a great starting point, however we encourage the Commission “to speak freely, to outline a bold vision for New Zealand’s future, and to not hold back".

Reducing Wellington city's carbon emissions

Knowing where our city emissions come from helps us understand trends over time so we know how to proactively to reduce emissions.

As part of our Te Atakura – First to Zero plan to be a net zero carbon capital by 2050 we have set targets to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in relation to our 2001 base year measurement.

Emissions reduction targets 2020 2030 2040 2050
Wellington City 10% 43% 68% 100%

Overall, our city emissions are slowly reducing, even though our population has increased. Our city population has grown by 26% over the last 20 years and our net emissions have reduced by 7%; however, we need to do much more as a city and individually to make sure we meet our reduction targets. 

2020 Community Greenhouse Gas Inventory

In 2020 Wellington City commissioned AECOM New Zealand Limited to undertake a greenhouse gas footprint for the city to compare with our targeted reduction goals for 2020. Utilising updated measurement tools, this inventory replaces the previous 2014, 2016 and 2019 inventories, and updates the 2001 emissions baseline for Wellington City.

Wellington City Greenhouse Gas Inventory 2020 (770 KB PDF)

As a city, our most significant sources of emissions are related to transport and stationary energy (such as energy use in buildings). Collectively, this amounts to 84 percent of emissions in Wellington.

Wellington City Emissions breakdown 2019/20

A Donut graph of our city's emissions. Transport emissions make up 48 percent of the total, with petrol and diesel for cars the largest contributor. Stationary energy, like electricity and natural gas for buildings, makes up 36 percent. Waste and Industry make up 8 and 7 percent, respectively.

Wellington City gross emissions by sector 2001 - 20

This graph shows a downward trend in our city's overall emissions.

However, our current pathway won't get us to our commitment of net zero by 2050. We will need to do much more as a city and individually to ensure that our reduction targets are met.

The Council's carbon emissions

Council began collecting corporate greenhouse emissions in 2005. Since 2014/15 Wellington City Council has been using the Carbonreduce Certification tool (formerly CEMARS) provided by Toitu Enviro-Mark Solutions. This scheme audits our corporate emissions annually and creates a certified baseline and trajectory towards lowering our emissions in three-year blocks. In light of the updated accuracy of this tool, Council has reset our base-year targets to 2014/15, and we now review emissions annually to track progress.

The Carbonreduce protocol measures emissions from all sectors that Council is involved with, either solely or jointly. This includes emissions from Council Controlled Organisations, and a portion from our Joint Ventures (Porirua wastewater treatment plant and Spicer Valley Landfill).

Read more about Toitu Carbonreduce.

Other schemes and initiatives we're involved with


CDP is a not-for-profit charity that runs a global disclosure system for investors, companies, cities, states and regions to manage their environmental impact. By participating in CDP, we are better able to track our progress compared to other cities and find opportunities for Wellington to reduce emissions.


Global Covenant of Mayors

The Global Covenant of Mayors is a global coalition of city leaders addressing climate change by pledging to cut greenhouse gas emissions and preparing for future climate change impacts. It includes more than 10,000 cities around the world, representing 800 million people working toward a resilient and low-emissions society.

Global Covenant of Mayors

New Zealand Green Building Council

The New Zealand Green Building Council (NZGBC) is a non-profit membership organisation that promotes better buildings through their programmes, NABERSNZ, HomeFit, Homestar, and Green Star.

New Zealand Green Building Council

WWF’s One Planet Cities

The WWF runs the One Planet City Challenge as a friendly competition where participating cities report emissions, goals, and targets on standardised reporting platforms. These are assessed and compared to emissions reduction trajectories in line with limiting temperature increase to 1.5C. Cities are then recommended actions in line with 1.5C for their city. The most inspiring cities are celebrated and innovative solutions are shared.

WWF’s One Planet Cities