Wāhanga tūmahi: Te Kaunihera o te Tāone Nui o Te Whanganui-a-Tara
Action area: Wellington City Council

We're working on a plan to be a net zero organisation by 2050.

As a large organisation, with over 500 services and facilities, we have an opportunity to show leadership in reducing our emissions.

We can make changes by:

  • better understanding our own emissions
  • identifying opportunities for reducing the carbon of our buildings and vehicles
  • working with contractors and businesses who share our net zero goals.
  • working with our Council controlled organizations (CCOs), who are also a part of our journey towards a net carbon zero future.

What we’ve done so far

The Council is committed to reducing the impact and emissions we create as an organisation. Through our Te Atakura –First to Zero Implementation plan and Long-Term Plan funding, we are working on projects across the organisation to ensure we align with our net zero by 2050 goals.

As an organisation we have:

  • planted over two million native plants with volunteers since 1990
  • made energy efficiency upgrades in our buildings and facilities, saving the equivalent energy use of 600 homes a year
  • installed 15,000 LED streetlights
  • started transitioning our vehicles to an all EV fleet by 2030
  • started the process of building a Green Star 5 convention centre and upgrading the Central Library to reach the same status
  • diverted, salvaged or recycled 17,000 tonnes of waste from the landfill in the last year.

But there is still plenty to do.

What we're still doing

Carbon sequestration: Forestry opportunities

Carbon sequestration is the process of capturing and storing carbon dioxide, for example, by planting trees.

Despite Wellington's compact urban area, we've been proactively planting and protecting what forested areas we do have.

Although council-owned land for forestry is minimal, there are still rural areas suitable for planting trees.

The promotion of planting on private land will be done alongside planting of our own land holdings where possible.

It is also important to understand and promote the balance between native and exotic plant species, as while native trees are key to biodiversity, exotic plants capture and store much more carbon and many can be planted alongside natives.

Measuring our emissions

We measure and publicly report our corporate emissions annually.

Our corporate emissions include things like the energy used to operate our buildings and community facilities, streetlights, and water network; and emissions from our vehicle use and corporate travel.

The biggest area of our corporate emissions comes from our Council-owned facilities that we operate on behalf of the city, like the Southern Landfill and wastewater treatment plants. While these contribute about 8% of emissions to our city inventory, they make up over 80% of our Council inventory.

We have been measuring the Council’s annual Scope 1 and Scope 2 emissions, as well as a selection of Scope 3 emissions, for many years. From mid-2021, we started measuring Scope 3 emissions from our full value chain, including all our suppliers. This gives us a more complete picture of our emissions. Measuring the emissions from our entire value chain is in alignment with best practice. 

By choosing a methodology that gives us the most complete picture of our emissions, it enables us to see the full range of reduction opportunities. However, for some emissions sources, the calculation can only give an approximate picture. More information on how this is calculated can be found in Te Atakura: First to Zero 2022 (1.8MB PDF). 

Graph of city emissions breakdown 2021/22. Scope 1 - Direct: 48.8%; Scope 2 - Indirect Electricity Consumed: 1.7%; Scope 3 - Indirect Value Chain: 49.5%
Wellington City Council Emissions by source

We plan to expand our reports over the next two years to include more of our supply chain emissions, for example from road maintenance, and the goods and services we purchase. We want to take our suppliers on a journey with us and contribute to the City's 2030 and 2050 goals.

Reducing our emissions

The Council has a target to reduce our emissions to net zero by 2050.

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. 

We’re developing an Emissions Reduction Plan to identify hotspots within the organisation and ways to reduce carbon in line with our goal of net zero carbon by 2050.

This plan will outline specific opportunities and reduction targets across the Council's corporate emissions sources.

The plan will be put into place in 2023.

Commitments to international pledges

We report through the CDP (formerly the Carbon Disclosure Project) for voluntary city carbon disclosure and benchmarking against other cities. It also serves as our accountability to the Global Covenant of Mayors for Climate and Energy.

The Covenant of Mayors is fast becoming the foremost global accountability regime for cities aiming to reduce their carbon impact, with thousands of cities reporting each year.

Visit How we track our city emissions