Greenhouse gas emissions

The data in this indicator is no longer being updated.

Stats NZ is developing well-being indicators, Indicators Aotearoa New Zealand - Ngā Tūtohu Aotearoa, to track New Zealand’s progress. As the well-being indicators have similar aims to the NZ Progress Indicators and NZ Social Indicators, we are reviewing the future of these existing indicators.

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Negative change

New Zealand’s net greenhouse gas emissions have increased 54 percent since 1990

  • Image, Greenhouse gas emissions
    • New Zealand’s net greenhouse gas emissions increased 54 percent between 1990 and 2014. Total emissions increased 23 percent.
    • A total of 24.4 million tonnes of carbon dioxide (CO2) equivalent was removed from the atmosphere in 2014, equivalent to 30 percent of New Zealand’s total greenhouse gas emissions that year. There has been a 16 percent decline in removals since 1990.
    • Trees absorb carbon dioxide as they grow, and so remove it from the atmosphere. The increase in net emissions and decrease in removals are partly explained by the large quantity of forests planted in the early 1990s, which are now mature or have been harvested.



    1. Emissions are affected by land use, land use change, and forestry (LULUCF).
    Note: This graph is interactive. Hover over the data points to see the exact values. Click legend text to hide or show variables.

    View source data

    The source data for this indicator is available from New Zealand's greenhouse gas inventory: 1990–2014 on the Ministry for the Environment website.

    Definition and measure

    There is convincing evidence that, due to industrial and other human activities, gases are being emitted in such quantities that the composition and dynamics of the atmosphere are changing. This indicator measures net annual emissions of greenhouse gases – the emissions resulting from human activity minus those removed, primarily by forests.

    Greenhouse gas emissions include carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, sulphur hexafluoride, hydrofluorocarbons, and perfluorocarbons.

    Each greenhouse gas has a different warming potential. For ease of comparison, volumes of greenhouse gas emissions and removals are reported in terms of carbon dioxide equivalent, based on 100-year global warming potentials.

    The quantity of greenhouse gases emitted to the atmosphere as a result of human activity in New Zealand is estimated as part of a national greenhouse gas inventory.

    The industry sectors used in this analysis are based on those used in the greenhouse gas inventory. These are different from the Australian and New Zealand Standard Industrial Classification.

    Net removals are expressed as a negative value to help the reader clarify the value is a removal and not an emission.  

    Previous publications

    Key findings on New Zealand's progress using a sustainable development approach: 2010
    Measuring New Zealand's progress using a sustainable development approach: 2008
    Key findings on New Zealand's progress using a sustainable development approach: 2008

    Page updated June 2016

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