27 Feb 2018

NZ economy gains outstripping gas emission increases - report

5:58 pm on 27 February 2018

New Zealand's economy is growing faster than our greenhouse gas output, signalling industries are becoming more efficient with their emissions.

Greenhouse gas emissions: vehicle, agriculture, electricity.

Photo: RNZ

The findings have been released in the first-of-its-kind System of Environmental-Economic Accounts report by Statistics New Zealand.

The report contains information which show the interactions between the environment and the economy and what's being done to protect the environment.

Around 70 percent of New Zealand's export earnings depend on natural resources.

Economy-wide, greenhouse gas emissions increased by 24 percent over the past 25 years.

Agriculture, transport, storage, electricity, gas, water and waste services account for 76.5 percent of industry emissions in 2015.

In particular, primary industries - such as agriculture, forestry, fishing, and mining - account for 57.1 percent.

Agriculture's emissions rise 0.6 percent a year, while the sector's GDP increased by 1.4 percent a year.

Greenhouse gas intensity lowered for all these sectors.

However, intensity increased for forestry, food, beverage, tobacco, petroleum, chemical, polymer, rubber and metal product manufacturing.

Statistics New Zealand's Michele Lloyd said it was great to know the country was on the right path.

"There are some industries whose emissions are actually falling while their GDP is increasing, that's what we call Nirvana.

"Its great to be able to show there are industries who are able to do that, that's a way forward for the future," she said.

The information would be useful for policy making, she said.

"It shows which industries are contributing the most to emissions and which industries are able to decouple their growth from their emissions growth, [that's] very useful in the context of understanding how we can transition to a low-carbon economy."

There had been a demand for the information for the past two years and reports would now be released annually, she said.

How much are our natural resources worth?

(From the latest 2016 figures)

  • Calculated asset value of commercial fish resource was $7.2 billion, an average increase of around 5 percent per annum from 1996-2016. Rock lobster had the highest asset value at $2.4bn.
  • The value of cultivated (exotic and commercially viable) timber stocks reached $18.3 billion. Timber stocks increased $961m on the 2015 value.
  • Returns to electricity operators from the use of all renewable energy was $818m, $574m of which was from hydroelectricity. Renewable energy accounted for 82 percent of total electricity generation.
  • Primary industries as a whole (agriculture, forestry, fishing, and mining) accounted for 5.5 percent of GDP in 2016, amounting to $14bn. This is a decrease of 12.1 percent since 1972.

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