Aucklanders carbon impact 15 per cent higher than fellow New Zealanders

Last Updated : 18 Apr 2023
Emissions Report
Credit Edward Howell

Auckland is striving to reduce its carbon emission by 50 per cent by 2030, but a recently published report, the Consumption Emissions Modelling Report, commissioned by Auckland Council, shines new light on the city’s consumption-based emissions.

It also found food, housing, household utilities and transport were the largest drivers of greenhouse gas emissions from households across the country.

Data from various sources found the carbon footprint of an Auckland household is around 15 per cent higher than the average New Zealand household

Until now, national emission reporting in New Zealand has focused on production emissions, that is, the amount of Carbon Dioxide Equivalent (CO2e) emitted within the country while consumption emissions focus on CO2 emissions associated with goods and services consumed in the country.

The production emission approach means households do not have an accurate picture of the emissions caused by personal consumption patterns (particularly considering a large share of commodity emissions occur overseas), which makes it hard to identify where meaningful change can occur.

Chair of Planning, Environment and Parks Committee, Councillor Richard Hills says we must reduce emissions now to create a sustainable future for Tāmaki Makaurau and New Zealand.

“According to a recent IPSOS survey, nine out of 10 Aucklanders believe the council has a role to play in helping reduce the city’s emissions and prepare for the impacts of climate change.

“Our aim is to play a leadership role in this space, helping Aucklanders understand the steps they can also take to help us achieve effective climate action.

“This report is a significant step towards capturing the direct and indirect impact of households’ purchases, helping educate Aucklanders on where their personal emissions are occurring while also identifying sectors and commodities that are of greater concern when it comes to further reducing our carbon footprint.”

The new Auckland findings can be set against a backdrop of national data:

  • a 2020 report found, despite our size and due to our wealth, New Zealand is the fourth highest producer of gross emissions per capita in the OECD
  • and a new government report - released last week - revealing New Zealand could face a bill of $24 billion in the years leading up to 2030 to meet its international climate change targets.

Lead Climate Mitigation Advisor at Auckland Council, Adrien Bouzonville, says household consumption is an important contributor to greenhouse gas emissions, but we’ve not been able to quantify it before now.

“Aucklanders might be surprised to find out they could be contributing more than their fair share to our overall emissions, especially as a households’ carbon footprint tends to increase with its income.

“However, recent research also found 73 per cent of Aucklanders were prepared to change their personal consumption behaviour to reduce climate change, which is certainly encouraging.”

He says there are many more actions that could be taken by households to consume more responsibly, for example buying local products and services, extending the lifetime of products (from electronics to appliances and clothing and footwear), using active modes of transport, enjoying holidays closer to home and encouraging a more circular local economy.

As the public conversation around climate change becomes increasingly relevant in the light of recent weather events, many Aucklanders may be wondering: “how do my individual choices affect climate change and what can I realistically do about it?”

“Every household contributes to greenhouse gas emissions, and we can all act to mitigate those emissions with simple and wise changes to our behaviours. The carbon footprint tool FutureFit is a good place to start,” adds Adrien.

The council’s report will set a new standard on how to address consumption emissions for business, households, and local and central governments ensuring a consistent approach to measuring consumption emissions in New Zealand. Through this work, Auckland joins the leading C40 cities of New York, San Francisco, Paris and Tokyo in the race to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

The full report can be read on Knowledge Auckland.

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