Road transport emissions increasing

Greenhouse gas emissions are increasing in New Zealand and road transport has one of the highest emission rates.

According to the latest national report from the Ministry of the Environment and Statistics New Zealand, while agriculture makes up nearly half of NZ gross emissions, road transport has had one of the largest increases in emissions, with a 78 per cent increase since 1990.

The report discusses the state of the atmosphere as well as projections for the country’s climate and the factors that influence our ultraviolet light levels, carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere have increased by 23 per cent since 1972.

According to secretary for the Environment, Vicky Robertson the most concerning change in New Zealand’s atmosphere is the unprecedented high levels of carbon dioxide, which are leading to increasing global temperatures and changes to our oceans, including rising sea levels and increasing ocean acidity.

“While New Zealand is not a large contributor of emissions globally, we are certainly affected locally and we need to act on what that means for us,” Ms Robertson said.

“The future impacts of climate change on our lives all depend on how fast global emissions are reduced and the extent to which our communities can adapt to change.

“Encouragingly, the report shows international efforts have been successful in phasing out the use of ozone-depleting substances. This has led to gradual recovery of the ozone hole.”

Meanwhile, global gross greenhouse gas emissions have risen by 51 per cent from 1990 to 2013 and gross greenhouse gas emissions have risen 24 per cent from 1990 to 2015.

New Zealand has experienced a 1°C temperature increase since 1909 and the country’s glaciers have decreased by a quarter of their volume since 1977.
Sea levels have risen 14–22cm at four main New Zealand ports since 1916
The global production of ozone-depleting substances has dropped 98 per cent from 1986 to 2015.

“We have enough data on measures like annual average temperature to confidently say New Zealand’s climate is warming. That is showing up, for example, in the significant loss of our glacier volume,” said government statistician Liz MacPherson.

“New Zealand has naturally variable weather, making trends in some areas difficult to determine. We need longer-term data to establish whether changes are persisting.”

“National and international data collections on the atmosphere and climate are increasingly comprehensive but there are still some things we don’t know at this time, in particular the full impact of climate change on our biodiversity, cultural values and the economy,” MacPherson said.

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