Coal use drives up regional emissions in 2019

Boosted by coal use, total regional greenhouse gas emissions increased by 2.1 percent in the 2019 year, Stats NZ said today.

Waikato experienced the largest annual increase in emissions, up 1,085 kilotonnes (7.5 percent), followed by Taranaki, up 235 kilotonnes (4.0 percent), and Auckland, up 154 kilotonnes (1.4 percent).

“The large emission increases in Waikato and Taranaki were largely due to an increase in coal being used for electricity generation and in manufacturing processes, and to a lesser extent an increase in agricultural emissions,” environmental-economic accounts manager Stephen Oakley said.

In 2019, hydro-generation dipped due to low rainfall in the North Island, and as a result electricity generation from coal and gas increased. In the Waikato region, where New Zealand’s largest thermal power station is situated – Huntly Power Station – total emissions increased 1,085 kilotonnes (7.5 percent).

Auckland’s emissions increase was driven by manufacturing, which was up 3.0 percent in 2019 compared with 2018, and accounted for 41 percent of its total industry emissions.

In 2019, the largest falls in emissions were in Canterbury, down 179 kilotonnes (1.5 percent), Gisborne, down 48 kilotonnes (3.5 percent), and Tasman, down 35 kilotonnes (3.9 percent).

Canterbury emissions were down largely due to declining livestock numbers (dairy cattle and pig numbers in particular).

RegionPrimary industriesGoods-producing industriesService industriesHouseholds
Bay of Plenty84.040.412.110.4
Hawke’s Bay43.56.21.5-11.5
West Coast42.24.7-1.7-3.3

Regional emissions and economic output

In 2019, the top three emitting regions – Auckland, Waikato, and Canterbury – accounted for 47 percent of total regional emissions. The high contributions of these regions to total emissions reflects both population size and the presence of emissions-intensive industries.

Auckland, which contributes the most of any region to national economic activity (GDP), was the third highest emitter of greenhouse gases in 2019. While Wellington and Canterbury had very similar economic output contributions (with each contributing 12 percent to total GDP), the two regions displayed different emissions contributions with Wellington contributing 4.3 percent and Canterbury 14 percent of all greenhouse gas emissions.

“This illustrates how the structure of the regional economy influences regional emissions intensity. A regional economy with more service industries generally produces fewer emissions per unit of GDP compared with a regional economy with a higher proportion of primary and goods-producing industries. Wellington has a higher proportion of service industries compared with Canterbury and is therefore less emissions intensive,” Mr Oakley said.

RegionContribution (%) to total CO2-e emissionsContribution (%) to total GDP
Bay of Plenty4.25.8
Hawke’s Bay42.8
West Coast1.70.6

About the data

Greenhouse gas emissions by region (industry and household): Year ended 2019 has more detail about the distribution of greenhouse gas emissions for 16 regions by main industries and households for the time period 2007 to 2019.

The estimates are compiled on the same basis as that used to measure GDP and other economic statistics.

This second release of greenhouse gas emissions by region is provisional. Revisions to the time series are expected due to methodological improvements and input data revisions.

The estimates complement Greenhouse gas emissions (industry and household): Year ended 2019, released in July 2021. Data is available to the year ended 2019 due to the availability of input data from New Zealand’s Greenhouse Gas Inventory.

For more information on how the estimates were compiled, see the ‘air emissions’ section in Environmental-economic accounts: Sources and methods (third edition).

/Stats NZ Public Release. This material comes from the originating organization/author(s)and may be of a point-in-time nature, edited for clarity, style and length. The views and opinions expressed are those of the author(s).View in full here.