Climate change and our energy use

In New Zealand, our energy use makes up almost 40% 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.

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

Illustrated statistics: New Zealand has the 4th highest emissions per capita in the OECD, 32% The increase in energy-related emissions since 1990, 62% The increase in transport emissions since 1990..

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 50% 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.

Our gross and net emissions over time

Line graph showing New Zealand's gross and net emissions over time.
Source: Ministry for the Environment – Time series emissions data 1990-2020 from New Zealand's Greenhouse Gas Inventory published in 2022.

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 40% 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. 

Donut graph showing the breakdown of New Zealand's energy-related emissions as percentages..
Source: Greenhouse Gas Inventory 1990-2020, Ministry for the Environment (2022); light vehicles and other transport estimates are based on data from the Ministry of Business, Innovation & Employment (MBIE) 2020 energy balances and MBIE Energy in New Zealand (2021). Percentages may not add up due to rounding.

Climate change and the electricity grid

Get a better understanding of New Zealand's mostly-renewable electricity system, and why the time of day we use electricity makes a difference.

History will only remember what we do

The climate crisis requires an urgent response.

For 12 months, we captured Kiwis taking climate actions, big and small, putting them on the right side of history. From people swapping out car trips for bike rides to big green projects like electric ferries and ditching industrial coal boilers, we can see that New Zealanders are making a difference.

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.

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