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New data tracks regional greenhouse gas emissions in relation to regional GDP – Media release

23 July 2020

Auckland, which contributes the most of any region to national economic activity, was the third highest emitter of greenhouse gases in 2018, and Wellington, the region with the second highest economic activity, was the ninth highest emitter, Stats NZ said today.

“This demonstrates that regions with higher levels of economic activity don’t always have higher emissions,” environmental-economic accounts manager Stephen Oakley said.

Canterbury had the third highest level of economic activity in 2018 and the second highest emissions, while Waikato had the fourth highest level of activity and the highest level of emissions.

“The new data allows regions to better understand the emissions intensity of their economies. It will also be of interest as regions look to reduce their emissions while managing economic outcomes, thereby transitioning to a lower-emissions economy,” Mr Oakley said.

Structure of regional economies influences regional emissions intensity

Service industries produce fewer emissions per unit of GDP than primary and goods-producing industries meaning they are less emissions intensive. Service industries include wholesale trade; retail trade; transport, postal, and warehousing; government and defence; and health care and social assistance. Conversely, primary industries, such as agriculture, forestry, fishing, and mining, generally have higher emissions intensities.

Southland, West Coast, and Taranaki were the regions with the highest emissions intensities in 2018 largely due to the significance of primary industries to their economies.

Wellington and Auckland recorded the lowest emissions intensities delivering more economic activity relative to their emissions. These lower intensities reflect the significance of relatively lower emission-intensive service industries to their economies and the lower levels of agricultural activity in these regions.

Primary industries were the main contributors to greenhouse gas emissions for all regions except Auckland, where goods-producing industries (manufacturing industries; electricity, gas, water, and waste services; and construction) were the main contributors (44 percent).

About the data

The release Greenhouse gas emissions by region (industry and household): Year ended 2018 includes estimates for 15 regions by main industries and households. The estimates are compiled on the same basis as that used to measure GDP and other economic statistics.

This first release of greenhouse gas emissions by region is provisional. Revisions to the time series are expected as the methodologies are improved over time.

The estimates complement Greenhouse gas emissions (industry and household): Year ended 2018, released in June 2020. Data is available to the year ended 2018 due to the availability of input data from New Zealand’s Greenhouse Gas Inventory.

For more information on how the estimates were compiled, see the ‘air emissions’ section in Environmental-economic accounts: Sources and methods (third edition).