Unusual lake levels drive energy emissions drop

Total greenhouse gas emissions from the energy sector dropped seven percent in 2009, according to a new Ministry of Economic Development report. Electricity generation was the star performer within the sector, with a 24% reduction in emissions. The report attributes the drop to higher than usual lake levels which allowed more hydro energy to be used in lieu of coal and gas generation. Electricity generation made up 19% of total energy sector emissions in 2009.

Total greenhouse gas emissions from the energy sector dropped seven percent in 2009, according to a new Ministry of Economic Development report.

Electricity generation was the star performer within the sector, with a 24% reduction in emissions. The report attributes the drop to higher than usual lake levels which allowed more hydro energy to be used in lieu of coal and gas generation.

Electricity generation made up 19% of total energy sector emissions in 2009.

Transport contributed 44% of total energy sector emissions and experienced a two percent decrease last year, also driven by a temporary factor – in this case, the recession.

“As the economy recovers, we can expect those emissions to go back up,” Climate Change Minister Nick Smith told Radio NZ this morning.

He said some structural improvement had occurred, including a shift towards newer, more efficient vehicles.

Labour's environment spokesman Charles Chauvel was more pessimistic.

"When New Zealand comes out of recession, and in years when our hydro lakes aren't full, our emissions will hit historic highs," he predicted.

"The only policy the Government has in place to address this reality is a flawed emissions trading scheme that shifts costs from emitters to households and which will lead to higher, not lower, greenhouse gas emissions.”

On an international level, New Zealand’s energy emissions have increased by 47% since 1990. This figure is high compared to countries like Russia, Germany and the UK, who have decreased energy emissions since 1990, but is middle of the range on a per capita basis.

Energy sector emissions contributed 45.3% of total national emissions in 2008, behind agriculture at 46.6%.

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