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How we track our city emissions

In order to reach our net zero climate action targets, we need to regularly and accurately measure a variety of emissions across the city.

Wellington’s gross emissions reduced by 9% between 2019/2020 and 2021/2022. In the 20 years before that, gross emissions reduced by 8%, even while the population grew 24%.

We need to continue to reduce our carbon at similar or faster rate to reach our commitment of making 57% reduction by 2030 and being net carbon zero by 2050. To do this we need to make our biggest reductions over the next 7 years. 

2022 City Emissions Inventory

Our city inventory is calculated every few years and was completed in 2014, 2016, 2019 and 2020. 

In 2022, our city inventory was calculated for financial years 2020/21 and 2021/22.

Wellington City Community Carbon Footprint Report (1.3MB PDF)

Wellington City Greenhouse Gas Inventory COVID-19 impact assessment (952KB PDF)

As a city, 83% of emissions are related to transport and stationary energy, such as energy use in buildings. These remain the areas where we can see the greatest reductions over the next 7 years by changing how we live and move around the city. 

Pie chart showing the city emissions breakdown. Transport is the largest 45.5%, Stationery energy 37.3%, Waste 8.6%, Industry 7.0%, Agriculture 1.7%.

Emissions breakdown

In the 2022 reporting year, Wellington City emitted gross 853,513 metric tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent (tCO2e). 

  • Transportation is the biggest source of emissions accounting for 45.5% of total gross emissions. 
  • Stationary energy is the second largest emitter, 37.3% of total gross emissions. 
  • Waste (8.6% of total gross emissions), industry (7.0% of total gross emissions) and agriculture (1.7% of total gross emissions) are the smaller sources of emissions in Wellington City.

Our latest figures show that city emissions have reduced by 9% over the last two years. It’s a positive trend, despite some of the reduction relating to  the impacts of less air travel during the pandemic. 

  • Reduction in on-road vehicle emissions (lower distance travelled by vehicles in Wellington City) 
  • Reduction in landfill emissions (due to increased landfill gas (methane) capture) 
  • Energy shift in the transport sector (busses, ferries, other vehicles, inter island ferries) 

That doesn’t mean we can take our eye off our 2030 and 2050 net zero carbon goals, but it’s encouraging to see that the city is on the right track. 

What emissions are measured

The Wellington city greenhouse gas emissions inventory aligns with the Global Protocol for Community Scale Greenhouse Gas Emissions Inventories (GPC).

The report accounts for greenhouse gas emissions of sectors within the city boundaries. These sectors are:

  • Stationary energy – includes emissions from electricity and natural gas.
  • Transportation – includes emissions from on and off-road transportation (petrol and diesel), rail, air, bus electricity, LPG, and port activities.
  • Waste – including waste originating in Wellington City from both solid waste (open and closed landfills) and wastewater.
  • Industry (industrial processes and product use) – including emissions of synthetic gases used in activities such as refrigeration, air-conditioning, fire extinguishers, aerosols, and electrical equipment production.
  • Agriculture – from within the city boundaries.

The gross total is then adjusted to reflect emissions sequestered (removed) through forestry, which provides the net emissions.

Did you know? Carbon sequestration is the process of capturing and storing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. This is often done by planting trees and forests.

What emissions aren't measured

This inventory does not include emissions from products created outside of Wellington's boundary. For example, concrete production is high in emissions but is made outside of Wellington before being trucked in to create a new building or footpath, so it wouldn't be included.

The emissions associated with goods purchased and consumed by Wellingtonians are not included in our inventory but do need to be considered. Future city inventories may include more data from the 'stuff' we buy that wasn't made in our city.

Find out more about our Te Atakura action areas and initiatives, and what you can do about climate change.