Wellington Scoop

Sharp rise in Wellington’s 2030 target for carbon reduction

Report from RNZ
A report to the Wellington City Council shows the city needs to reduce more carbon than previously anticipated by the end of this decade.

The capital now needs to cut 57 percent of its carbon emissions before 2030, as part of its plan to become carbon neutral by 2050.

The new target report does not lay down a map for how the city will reduce the extra carbon, and original calculations still predict the city will fall short. But the council says there are still projects to be factored in.

It has been over two years since Te Atakura was adopted – when the city council declared a climate and ecological emergency and committed to the 2050 goal.

In August 2020, council adopted the Implementation Plan for Te Atakura which set out plans for how emissions could be cut by 2050.

Councillors voted today to increase its target to align with updated international science and methodologies, particularly shaped by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report earlier this year.

An additional 200,000 tonnes of carbon need to be cut to reach a 57 percent reduction within the decade.

With current calculated projects, there is still 36 percent of carbon cuts unaccounted for – though councillors have said there are a number of pending cuts to factor in.

Councillor Tamatha Paul, who holds the Climate Change portfolio, agrees more needs to be done, and sooner, but the outlook is still promising, she said. “From 2000 to last year we haven’t had the most structured plan to get to net zero. But even without that plan, we’ve managed to reduce our emissions by 7 percent. To me that says, ‘if that’s without any effort, what can we do when we’re putting all of our energy and resources into this transition?'”

Wellington’s biggest emitting sector is transport, at just over 50 percent.

Councillors yesterday voted to build a $226 million 147km bike network across the city within the next 10 years. The estimated carbon reductions are yet to be calculated. Key public transport improvements as part of the Let’s Get Wellington Moving are expected to make reductions also.

The Council has outlined through the Te Atakura update that other initiatives will help, such as the Climate Lab, which aims to collaborate with local businesses to help reduce their emissions. The report said collaborations with the Climate Lab will begin this year.

Associate Professor of Victoria University of Wellington’s school of Environmental Studies, Ralph Chapman, said even with such upcoming projects, the target is a stretch – but can’t be ruled out.

“[Council is] doing some long term investment here, and you want a pretty ambitious target, in principle. But it’s quite difficult to achieve any particular target in the short term like 2030, which is now only eight years away, it’s pretty close.”

Wellington Mayor Andy Foster said at the Planning and Environment committee meeting that there’s an opportunity over the next few months “to pull the biggest levers we can pull”.


  1. Claire, 25. September 2021, 11:44

    The cycle way emissions are yet to be calculated! This needs to be done first. How do you know whether it’s worth doing? And don’t forget to factor in all the cars in the cyclists’ driveways. There is no rigour here, just pie in the sky.

  2. Tim Jones, 25. September 2021, 12:26

    It’s great that WgtnCC have adopted a target that follows the latest climate science, and also voted for a proper cycleway network. Well done! Now there’s so much more to do, starting with LGWM ensuring that each of its projects is focused on reducing emissions. Transport is 60% of Wellington’s emissions. We need:
    – to invest in walking, cycling, buses, mass transit;
    – to stop airport expansion and new roads.
    [via twitter]

  3. Ray Chung, 25. September 2021, 13:12

    Claire, I suspect that the cycle way emissions haven’t been calculated as it will be nothing more than a wild guess. To have any semblance of accuracy, they would need to assess how many people will stop driving their cars into the city and ride a bicycle instead. It won’t help pulling people off buses onto bikes as the buses will still run.

  4. Elrond Burrell, 25. September 2021, 13:17

    A 7% annual emissions reduction adds up to a 50% cut in a decade. Go hard now ⁦WgtnCC. ⁩ More power to ⁦Tamatha Paul. [via twitter]

  5. Richard Keller, 25. September 2021, 14:27

    It is potentially great that 147K of cycleways are to be built over the next decade. There are two things to be wary of, however. The most important thing is that while it’s great to grow numbers of cyclists, the main purpose is to get cars off the road. The future will be with many fewer vehicles on the road. If another traffic tunnel is built, then that fundamental goal will not be met and the whole Let’s Get Wellington Moving (which should be titled Let’s Get Wellington Serious About Climate Change) will be a great waste of money. The second ‘wary’ is that the project is so ambitious it may never be accomplished, which like my first wary, will do nothing to get cars off the road. A commitment NOT to build a traffic tunnel must be included in this cycleway plan.

  6. Jonathan Coppard, 26. September 2021, 10:01

    Hard to pull that lever when everyone’s pretending that international air travel emissions don’t exist. [via twitter]


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