Curious to know how changing the way we live and work now will impact climate change? We can keep some of what was good about our Covid lockdown and reap the benefits.

Simple changes that will get us out of our cars, save costs, and free up more time for what we want to do could save carbon emissions the equivalent of taking nearly 50,000 fossil-fuelled cars off the road.

The Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority (EECA), which backs Gen Less, has done the maths and found key actions that will make a huge difference: reducing business travel, and holidaying in New Zealand.

EECA’s CEO Andrew Caseley said “We could capture meaningful carbon benefits straightaway from these no-cost switches, that we have all now been exposed to, and that have been proven to work.

“We can be clean and clever about how we tackle climate change, and capture the lifestyle and productivity benefits of smart working and lifestyle choices that reduce our environmental impact.

Gen Less is about getting more out of life using less energy, and creating less climate harm.

Andrew Caseley, EECA CEO

More zoom, less vroom

It hasn’t taken long for traffic levels to get back to where they were earlier this year. Every person who is able to ditch even one day of their car commute will free themselves from traffic (and lower it for everyone else), and benefit the environment. Before Covid, around 75% of Kiwis drove to work. Even if just one in five of them switch the car for active transport (biking or walking), or even work at home one day a week, we could avoid 84,000 tonnes of carbon emissions each year – that’s like taking 35,000 cars off the road for good.

Domestic travel’s opening up, which means flying for work is back on the cards – but do you really need (or want) to? We know consumers want to see business taking a lead on climate change, so apart from the time and money saved by meeting digitally instead of flying, you’ve got a great story to tell about the action you’re taking to reduce your emissions.

  • Business travellers moving between Auckland and Wellington are responsible for around 65,000 tonnes of carbon each year. If even half of these flights were swapped for an online meeting, that would be the same as taking around 13,500 cars off the road – and that’s only on one flight route!

More smiles, less miles

Planning to visit your favourite New Zealand spot during the school holidays? Maybe checking out somewhere new, or catching up with friends or rellies you haven’t seen before the pandemic? We may not have much choice but to holiday in New Zealand at the moment, but while we support local industry and enjoy a gorgeous country without jetlag and international airports, we’re also taking lower-carbon breaks.

Already a pro at holidaying locally? You’re leading the way. If more of us choose to holiday domestically in the future, we’ll all be better off. 

Last year, Kiwis took 1.2 million trips to Australia - a return trip to Australia can generate nearly a tonne of emissions. That’s the equivalent of a couple driving the entire length of New Zealand in a petrol car.

How we did the maths

Reduction in vehicle GHG emissions if 20% of people who drive to work ditch the car one day a week:

  • 1.9 million people drive to work (75% of 2.5 million employed people, MoT Household Travel Survey and Stats NZ) 
  • Average one way trip by car to work is 10.7 km (MoT Household Travel Survey)
  • Light passenger fleet average fuel consumption is 9.5 litres/100 km (derived from MoT data)
  • Fuel saved 173 million litres petrol – equivalent to 420,000 tonnes CO2e
  • Assuming 20% of these worked from home saves 84,000 tonnes CO2e – equivalent to emissions from 35,000 cars on the road.

Approximately 1.25 million passengers fly from Wellington to Auckland each year (ANZ and Jetstar flight schedules):

  • 40% of these are estimated to be business passengers
  • GHG gas emissions from one return trip between Wellington and Auckland is 129 kg CO2e (Air NZ carbon calculator)
  • This means business air travel between Wellington and Auckland is responsible for 65,000 tonnes of carbon emissions, per annum, equivalent to 27,000 cars on the road.