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Understanding climate change

Our climate is changing faster than at any other time in our history. Those changes are caused by rapidly increasing greenhouse gas emissions in our atmosphere, which are now at their highest levels in 3 million years. Climate change is increasingly having an impact on ecosystems and weather patterns, but it is also taking its toll on people, businesses and ways of life.

In New Zealand, our energy use makes up almost 42% of our greenhouse gas emissions. Those emissions are created when we burn fossil fuels – driving a petrol car or diesel truck, travelling by plane, burning gas for manufacturing or burning coal to create electricity.

Our opportunity is to reverse these changes by choosing to live more, with less energy.

Climate change is the most urgent global environmental challenge of our time. We must be bold and accelerate decarbonisation to leave future generations a healthy, stable planet.

A snapshot of New Zealand's emissions

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How New Zealand is tracking

New Zealand has a commitment to reaching net-zero carbon emissions by 2050. We've also committed to reducing emissions to 30 percent below 2005 levels by 2030.

While emissions are projected to decrease between now and 2050, we need to ramp up our climate response to meet the 2050 target.

New Zealand's gross and net emissions over time.

The language of climate change

Climate change itself is complicated, and the language used to talk about it is no different. We've put together a guide to help explain some of the words and phrases around climate change, from greenhouse gases and carbon offsetting, to the Paris Agreement.

The breakdown of our emissions

Almost 42% of New Zealand's greenhouse gas emissions come from the energy sector, including light vehicles, manufacturing and construction, other transport, and electricity generation. The rest of our greenhouse gas emissions come from agriculture, waste, and industrial processes. 

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Will we be on the right side of history?

History doesn't remember what you thought. It remembers what you did.

There has never been a more crucial time for us all to mitigate climate change and shape the lives of future generations. Our latest campaign calls on all New Zealanders to take positive climate actions that reduce our energy use and get on the right side of history.

Helpful resources

There's a lot of great information out there on climate change, whether you want to learn more about the science, learn how it’s impacting us, find out what the government is doing, or discover what you can do.