Cars drive up NZ emissions
More cars on the road mean New Zealand’s household emissions have grown 20 per cent in the last decade, while our overall greenhouse gas emissions have flatlined.
Total national emissions dropped a mere 0.9 per cent from 2007 to 2017 according to the latest environmental-economic accounts report from Stats NZ, but emissions actually rose 2.3 per cent between 2016-17, offsetting any earlier gains.
While shifting to renewable energy has seen emissions from the electricity sector drop over this period, household emissions - which now account for one-tenth of total emissions - jumped 19.3 per cent from 2007 to 2017, mainly due to rising emissions from road transport - some of which are from the tourism industry.
Massey University Professor Emeritus Ralph Sims told the NZ Herald these rising transport emissions were because of Kiwis' love affair with cars.
"Given that annual SUV sales continue to grow, and the life of a car is 15 to 20 years, government intervention is long overdue to encourage the purchase of low-emitting vehicles," he said.
But Climate Change Minister James Shaw told Newsroom that because our car market is so different to those overseas, we can't easily import an already-established EV policy like the one in Norway.
The report reflected that our agricultural sector now makes up half of all of New Zealand's greenhouse gas emissions. Dairy farming alone accounted for 20 per cent of the total 2017 emissions - up 27.7 per cent from 2007 - reflecting the widespread conversion to dairy over this period.
Professor Sims said agricultural emissions intensity had declined slightly through better productivity on the farm. "However, it will be decades before any current research outputs to reduce methane or nitrous oxide emissions from animals will have a real impact."
Dr Ivan Diaz-Rainey, an associate professor at the University of Otago, told Stuff "all-in-all, this is not good news".
He said policies aimed at stopping dairy conversions, encouraging electrification of the light vehicle fleet, banning inefficient appliances, and encouraging more energy-efficient buildings needed to be at the top of the list to reverse rising emissions.
The SMC gathered expert reaction on the report.