15 Dec 2022

NZ's emissions likely to drop a quarter by 2035, projections show

5:33 pm on 15 December 2022
Pine forest Wairau River South Island. Forest. Forestry. Pine trees. Pinus radiata

Tree planting is among the things that could have helped improved New Zealand's projected net emissions Photo: 123RF

Net climate emissions are likely to drop by a quarter by 2035, new projections for New Zealand show.

The figures were prepared by the Ministry for the Environment (MFE) for the United Nations Framework on Climate Change as part of a global stocktake of emissions.

The MFE projections showed that once tree planting and other offsetting measures were taken into account, net emissions would increase from 55 million tonnes in 2020 to 63 million in 2025, but were then expected to drop away to 41 million by 2035.

That figure was about a third lower than the estimate in the previous stocktake three years ago.

A number of climate polices and laws had been brought in during that time.

Read the full report: New Zealand's Eighth National Communication Under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and the Kyoto Protocol, 2022 (7.06MB

Read the full report: New Zealand's Fifth Biennial Report Under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (2.95MB)

The figures were calculated using a different system than those used to generate the government's carbon budgets, so could not be compared to the projections it made for New Zealand's domestic targets or international pledges.

All sectors now projected to see a decrease by 2035.

The new calculations showed a decrease in emissions projected for all sectors by 2023.

Before reducing, transport emissions would keep going up for a bit due to growth in travel demand, but were expected to plateau in 2023, and then decline.

However, the MFE figures showed the gross emissions projection was only 7.6 percent lower compared to the previous stocktake three years.

That was likely due to the impact of greater increases in planting pine trees than anticipated.

New Zealand's Greenhouse Gas Inventory showed forestry removed 123 million tonnes of CO2 equivalent from the atmosphere between 2013 and 2020.

The country's total emissions over that time were 639 million tonnes.

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