Scientists respond – MED’s 2009 emissions report

The Science Media Centre is gathering comment from scientists on the Ministry for Economic Development’s latest report on the country’s greenhouse gas emissions released yesterday. You can download the report here.

The report’s main finding: “Total energy emissions in 2008 were almost 4% higher than in 2007 predominantly due to a large increase in emissions from electricity generation.”

More comments as they come in…

Dr Jim Renwick Science Leader at NIWA’s National Climate Centre in Wellington comments:

“The MED document is an interesting read. Some other statistics I’ve recently seen, based on OECD numbers, include:

* Car ownership per person in NZ is the third highest in the world – one car for every person over the age of 15.

* 20 years ago, 80% of New Zealand’s electricity was from renewable resources, now it’s 65%

* New Zealand’s greenhouse gas emissions are rising at a rate double that of the United States.
“My commentary on all of this is that New Zealand has a few issues, if we want to live up to our clean, green image. The transport sector is a key one – NZ is such a low population density place that good public transport is a bit of a struggle, hence the reliance on private motor vehicles. Investment in improved public transport, and in alternatives to fossil fuels for transport, are needed to reverse the recent trends in transport sector emissions.

“Similarly, the energy sector has seen greater reliance on fossil-based generation in recent years. There is now new investment coming in on renewables, so that situation may improve. Continued/enhanced energy efficiency measures can also help. Reducing agricultural emissions may be achieved through technological improvements, and by improved sustainable farming practices. In all of these areas, New Zealand stands to gain if we can develop new technologies with international market potential, and if we can strengthen our ‘brand’ as a clean and green country.”

Contact the SMC to talk to climate scientists about the report’s findings.