Wellington on right track to be a Zero Carbon Capital

5 June 2020

The Capital’s emissions were down 7% between 2001 and 2019, and on target to reach the goal of dropping to 10% next year, according to a recently released report commissioned by Wellington City Council.

Wellington City Council is seeking feedback on Te Atakura – First to Zero

As part of the Te Atakura - First to Zero programme, moving to make Wellington City a zero carbon capital, this is positive news especially with drops from road transport, waste and stationary energy (buildings) despite a significant growth in the population and economy.

Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions per capita are down 24%, and while our GDP grew 59%, GHG emissions per unit of GDP are down 41%.

Mayor Andy Foster says: “With 92% of Wellingtonians wanting us to prioritise making Wellington City zero carbon by 2050, and 77% very concerned about the impact of climate change on Wellington, it’s clear what we need to focus on.

“This report is a good starting point and the result of a concerted effort by Council, consistent low carbon decisions from the community, and numerous groups and organisations around the city. But to reach our target of zero carbon in 2050 it’s going to take the whole city working together to achieve this collective goal.

“There are many reasons for these results, much of which can be attributed to the work we’ve done over many years to increase the proportion of trips taken by low or no emission modes. Wellington City has by far the highest amounts of trips by foot, bikes and public transport in the country. This is through ongoing transport improvements and consistent compact walkable city policies.

“Reductions in electricity emissions are nationwide, but Wellington City has played a big part due to the establishment of West Wind and Millcreek wind farms. We have been doing a lot, and we are deliberately doing a lot now, which is a large part of where we’ve got to with these results – and we will keep doing it too.

“The Te Atakura plan includes a huge number of proposed initiatives, opportunities and actions we could do to further reduce emissions, and now that Council has adopted the plan, it’s up to the city to decide what we’re going to do next.”

Wellington City Council’s Climate Change Portfolio Leader, Councillor Tamatha Paul stood for election to campaign for a zero waste Wellington, so is pleased to see we’re on track, but says there’s still a long way to go.

“This number is close to the necessary carbon reduction of 7.6% recommended by scientists to slow the global effects of climate change on our environment – but we can do better.

“Our commitment to the environment is a full time job, and while there are successes in some areas, there are challenges too.”

  • Emissions from electricity dropped 34%, while use increased just 1%
  • Air travel emissions increased by 45% as Wellington has become a more popular tourist destination
  • Waste emissions have dropped by 32% between 2001 and 2019 (Closed landfills have emitted much less methane, while the Council has invested in gas capture technology)
  • Road transport emissions dropped by 6% between 2001 and 2019 (Even with a growing population and economy, vehicle kilometers travelled only changed by 1%)

“All those people walking, scooting, running, and cycling are paying off, so get on your bike Wellington!” adds Councillor Paul.

Some other ways Wellingtonians can help reduce emissions:

Carbon emissions for Wellington City have been measured using the Global Protocol for Community Scale Greenhouse Gas Emissions Inventory (GPC). The method includes emissions from stationary energy, transportation, waste, industry (IPPU), agriculture and forestry sectors.

AECOM New Zealand Limited (AECOM) has been commissioned by Wellington City Council (WCC) via a consortium of Wellington Region Councils, to assist in the development of a greenhouse gas footprint for the District for the 2018 / 2019 financial year. The study boundary incorporates the jurisdictions of the Wellington City.