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Wellington seeing success with years-long effort to reach zero emissions status

Wellington is on track to becoming a zero carbon capital, according to a recently-released report commissioned by the Wellington City Council.

Wellington Harbour Source: Getty

Emissions were down seven per cent in the capital between 2001 and 2019, with the city seeing a drop in road transport, waste and stationary energy, or buildings, despite a significant growth in the population and economy. By next year, the drop in emissions since 2001 is likely to improve to 10 per cent, officials said.  

The report found that electricity emissions had dropped 34 per cent, with use increasing just one per cent; while air travel emissions increased by 45 per cent. Meanwhile, waste emissions dropped by 32 per cent between 2001 and 2019, while road transport emissions dropped by 6 per cent.

Greenhouse gas emissions per capita are also down 24 per cent. While the GDP grew 59 per cent, greenhouse gas emissions per unit of GDP were down 41 per cent.

Wellington is now on target to reach its goal of dropping its emissions 10 per cent next year as part of the Te Atakura - First to Zero programme to make the city a zero carbon capital.

Wellington Mayor Andy Foster said the report is a “good starting point and the result of a concerted effort by Council, consistent low carbon decisions from the community, and numerous groups and organisations around the city”.

He said much of the results can be attributed to the years of work to promote low or no emission modes of transport.

“We have been doing a lot, and we are deliberately doing a lot now, which is a large part of where we’ve got to with these results – and we will keep doing it too,” Mr Foster said.

Wellington City Council’s climate change portfolio leader, Councillor Tamatha Paul, praised the findings, but said there is still more to be done.

“This number is close to the necessary carbon reduction of 7.6 per cent recommended by scientists to slow the global effects of climate change on our environment – but we can do better.

“Our commitment to the environment is a full time job, and while there are successes in some areas, there are challenges too.”