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Te Whanganui-a-Tara – Seasonally adjusted greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions increased 1.1 percent, or 205 kilotonnes, in the December 2021 quarter from the September 2021 quarter, Stats NZ says.

However, this is still the lowest level December quarter in the time series due to continued pandemic-related restrictions throughout most of the quarter, particularly in Auckland, and a reduction in coal use for electricity generation.

By comparison, in the same time period gross domestic product (GDP) increased 3.0 percent.

Greenhouse gas emissions, industry and household is being released as an official statistic for the first time, following five experimental releases, to provide timelier emissions statistics, Stats NZ says.

These quarterly statistics are produced using the system of environmental-economic accounts (SEEA) framework, which is an internationally recognised statistical framework specifically designed to allow environmental data to be directly compared against economic data.

In addition to enabling meaningful comparisons to be made between New Zealand’s greenhouse gas emissions and our economic output, using the SEEA approach also allows the provision of:

timelier emissions information to be released, approximately six months after the reference period

ongoing reports over the course of the year allowing turning points to be identified with greater accuracy

breakdowns of emissions by industry groups and households

more up-to-date information for policy makers to support a just transition to a low emissions economy

The elevation of quarterly emissions statistics from experimental to official represents a significant achievement, with only two other national statistics offices, Sweden and the Netherlands, routinely producing quarterly emissions statistics under the SEEA framework.

These quarterly emissions statistics provide a timely leading indicator for New Zealand’s greenhouse gas profile, released approximately six months after the reference period and designed to complement the Ministry for the Environment’s greenhouse gas inventory.

The greenhouse gas inventory is New Zealand’s official report on emissions required by the Paris Agreement and reported annually to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.

The value of producing quarterly emissions statistics is becoming increasingly well recognised with, for example, the International Monetary Fund recently adding quarterly emissions to its climate change indicators dashboard.

These higher frequency quarterly statistics allow timely comparisons to be made to quarterly gross domestic product.

As a result, businesses and decision-makers can quickly identify what emissions path the economy is on, and whether emissions are reducing as long-term economic growth is maintained.