News | 12 December 2022
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Latest emissions data shows heartening decrease across the capital

New data paints a hopeful picture for the capital’s net zero carbon future, with a decrease in overall emissions.

Two young people moving house items using car sharing service.

Total gross emissions in Wellington dropped by 9 percent from 939,309 tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent (tCO2e) to 853,513 tCO2e between 2019/20 and 2021/22 as noted in a recent report by sustainability and resilience experts at global infrastructure consultancy firm, AECOM.

Given one tonne of carbon dioxide equivalent is like someone taking three return flights from Wellington to Auckland, this 9 percent reduction equates to around 300,000 return flights.


This decrease shows Wellingtonians are already working to reduce emissions by taking climate action in their daily lives while also embracing system change, says Mayor Tory Whanau.


“Everyone has a role to play in addressing the climate crisis. While this data is heartening, there’s a lot more mahi to be done to more than halve our emissions by 2030 and become a net zero carbon capital by 2050. It’s going to take us all working together to maintain this trend and make a measurable difference.”


Te Atakura – First to Zero YouTube Video


This year’s update of the Council’s climate action plan Te Atakura – First to Zero provides a progress report on the actions Council committed to when a climate emergency was first declared in 2019.

Two young people making clothes with a sewing machine.

The plan focuses on transport and urban form, building energy, advocacy, reducing the Council’s own emissions and adaptation. Almost $30 million was allocated to climate action initiatives in last year’s Long-term Plan, on top of the $226 million investment in cycleways and the zero and low carbon transport options planned by Let’s Get Wellington Moving.

Multiple initiatives in Te Atakura – First to Zero are well underway, many of them linked to the way we move around the city.


New routes across Wellington are being developed as part of Paneke Pōneke, to give people more sustainable transport options.


New EV chargers are being installed at convenient Council locations across the city, as part of the Charged-up Capital project to support a shift away from fossil-fuelled vehicles, and a shared e-bike scheme will be introduced early next year, on top of the existing e-scooter and car-sharing schemes in the city.


Two new community-focused funds have also been established. The Climate and Sustainability Fund was launched last year to boost climate action across the community and has already supported 12 community projects with $500,000 worth of grants.


The Environmental and Accessibility Performance Fund will provide up to $20 million for commercial and residential developments across new and retrofitted buildings that achieve a green building certificate and/or accessible design certification.


The breadth, depth and speed of this mahi across the capital is crucial says Alison Howard, Manager Climate Change Response.

“Urgent collective climate action will help protect the people, places and lifestyle we love.

“What we do now matters, so we all need to focus on impactful action that will make the biggest difference as quickly as possible. We see our role at Council as shifting the systems of the city, creating opportunities for that action.”

Person securing items on bicycle.

The AECOM report also noted:

  • The capital’s population remained relatively static, resulting in individual emissions reducing by 9 percent in line with total emissions.
  • A reduction in air travel emissions and on-road petrol and diesel consumption led to a 13 percent (58,495 tCO2 e) decrease in transport emissions.
  • Emissions from stationary energy including electricity, natural gas and LPG decreased by 6 percent (19,473 tCO2e).
  • Waste emissions decreased by 8 percent (5,943 tCO2e) thanks primarily to improvements in methane capture at open landfill sites.
  • When combined with the positive impact of our growing forests, the 9 percent gross emission reductions outlined above plus the amount of CO2 absorbed by trees has contributed to a 12 percent decrease in the annual total net emissions in Wellington city.