Greenhouse gas emissions
Council has received a number of awards for reducing its greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, including being named top carbon reducer in Toitū Envirocare’s 2020 rankings.
Reducing emissions is important because the current climate change emergency has been caused by too many GHGs in the atmosphere. We all need to be working to mitigate our emissions – that is, working to reduce the amount of GHGs in the atmosphere by reducing our GHG emissions, or finding ways to absorb GHGs out of the atmosphere (sequestration).
You can find out about GHGs and the impact they have on our atmosphere on the NIWA The greenhouse effect page.
Greenhouse gases (GHGs) are gases that trap heat from the sun in the Earth’s atmosphere and make the Earth warmer than it would be if they were not present. They include carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxides, and synthetic gases like some refrigerants (for example, R22).
Extra GHGs in the atmosphere, from human activities such as burning fossil fuels, increase the heat energy trapped near the Earth’s surface. This extra energy is changing the earth’s climate, and contributing to ice loss, sea-level rise, and more extreme weather. Some of the extra carbon dioxide is absorbed from the atmosphere by the oceans, causing them to become more acidic.
Industry best practice in carbon accounting is to simplify GHG emissions into carbon or carbon-equivalent emissions (tC02-e). This is a useful way of comparing emission profiles, especially as they may profile a range of different types of GHG.
The two GHGs emitted most in Aotearoa are:
- carbon dioxide (mostly from transportation, manufacturing and construction, and energy industries)
- methane (mostly from livestock and waste).
Aotearoa New Zealand’s national greenhouse gas emissions reductions targets are:
- net zero emissions of all greenhouse gases other than biogenic methane by 2050
- 24–47 percent reduction of biogenic methane emissions by 2050, with 10 percent by 2030 (relative to 2017 levels).
Aotearoa New Zealand’s greenhouse gas emissions are relatively small on a global scale, but our per capita emissions are among the highest in the world. This means that mitigation is needed at all levels, including households and businesses.
You can find out more Greenhouse gas emissions targets and reporting on the Ministry for the Environment's website.
About two-thirds of survey respondents support Council setting a districtwide emissions reduction target, as some other councils have done, according to an informal survey in September 2022. It found 75.1 percent are concerned or very concerned about climate change. The new Council will be briefed on the results in early 2023 to decide next steps.
Greenhouse gas inventories tell us that:
53 percent of gross emissions across the Kāpiti Coast district are from transportation (eg, road, rail and air travel).
17 percent of our district's emissions are from stationary energy (eg, industrial, residential, and commercial electricity or gas consumption).
15 percent of emissions in Kāpiti are from agriculture.
10 percent of emissions across our district are from waste.
5 percent of our district's emissions are from industry.
We're committed to:
- addressing the causes and effects of climate change by reducing emissions
- supporting the community to live in an environmentally sustainable way
- creating a low-carbon economy locally.
Our actions over the last 13 years have made us leaders in emissions reductions in the local government sector. We've received a number of awards, including from the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority, the Ministry for the Environment, and Enviro-Mark Solutions.
Our most recent award was being declared the leading carbon reducer for 2020 of Toitū Envirocare’s Top 10 Carbon reducers.
Measuring our emissions
We've been measuring and reporting our greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions since 2010. Our performance has been independently audited and verified by Toitū Envirocare’s CarbonReduce programme. CarbonReduce tracks how we measure, manage and reduce our GHG emissions.
To get certification under CarbonReduce, organisations have to measure their full greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions (also known as a carbon footprint), to understand their impact on the global climate. All operational emissions required under the international standard for carbon footprints, ISO 14064, have to be measured, including water and wastewater treatment, roading, pools, vehicles, business travel, fuel and electricity, paper, and waste. These are measured each year, and then independently verified by Toitū to make sure they're accurate and complete.
Once an organisation has measured their footprint, they have to develop plans to continuoually manage and reduce their emissions. As part of achieving Toitū CarbonReduce certification, the organisation needs to achieve emissions reductions on a five-year cycle.
Council wanted to fully understand the sources of our greenhouse gas emissions, and to put an effective plan in place to reduce them. This needed to be wholly transparent to our community. We identified becoming certified by the Toitū CarbonReduce programme as the best way to do this.
At the end of each year, we collate all the data and calculate our annual emission result. This is audited by staff from Toitū Envirocare, and put through an additional verification process within Toitū. If everything stacks up, we receive confirmation of our ongoing certification.
Council's carbon targets for organisation emissions
Council adopted two new emissions targets on 29 June 2023. These are in line with requirements from Toitū, and align with national and international best practice.
- a long-term aspirational target of net zero emissions by 2040
- a mid-term ‘further reductions’ target for category 1 and 2 emissions, to reduce these emissions another 15.5 percent from the 2021/22 baseline by 2032; this extra 15.5 percent will be added to the 70 percent emissions reduction Council has already achieved in these categories.
The emissions categories are:
- Category 1 emissions are direct emissions from using fuel, using natural gas.
- Category 2 emissions are emissions from the use of electricity, heat, cooling.
- Category 3–6 emissions are indirect emissions from the products and services Council uses (upstream) and from projects Council delivers (downstream, for example building the new transport hub).
Council also adopted the new Carbon Emissions Reduction Plan on 29 June 2023, which sets out Council’s carbon reduction mahi until 2032. It lists the projects Council will develop and deliver to achieve the mid-term carbon emissions target, to reduce category 1 and 2 emissions by another 15.5 percent.
The long-term target is ‘aspirational’ as Council’s emissions are increasing now we have for the first time estimated our indirect emissions (categories 3–6, value chain emissions). These are emissions from products and services Council buys to deliver services and projects. This estimate will be reported on for the first time in the annual audit later in 2023.
Adding these emissions to the audit programme will significantly increase Council’s overall emissions.
Over the next two years Council will be working with our contractors and suppliers to understand our category 3–6 emissions, and where we might reduce emissions. By 2025 Council will set a target for these categories of emissions, once we have a better understanding of the amount and where they come from.
Key actions we'll take
Projects planned to be completed by 2032:
- install a solar array on the buildings in the civic centre (Civic and surrounding buildings, and library)
- remove gas heating from both the Ōtaki and Waikanae pools
- continue to decarbonise Council’s fleet
- introduce an electric rubbish truck for (daily) public litter bin collections
- continue to reduce through business-as-usual delivery, such as reviewing staff travel policies and fertiliser use, and other improvements to business practice.
We’ve taken a wide range of actions to reduce our GHG emissions, including:
- replacing diesel with woodchip fuel at our Wastewater Treatment Plant drier
- incorporating energy efficiency in the design of two large construction projects, the Aquatic Centre and the Civic Building
- disposing of dried biosolids at a landfill with a higher gas capture and destruction rate
- installing Solar PV at some of our facilities
- installing LED streetlights across the district
- replacing end-of-life vehicles with more fuel-efficient and low-carbon models (including electric vehicles).
Our most recent GHG audit, for the 2021/22 year, verified a 64 percent reduction in our emissions compared to the 2009/10 baseline. This includes backdated estimated wastewater treatment process, which was first measured in 2018/19.
See larger image [PNG 59 KB].
Our changing footprint
As science and best practice carbon accounting evolves over time, we'll need to evolve our carbon reporting methodology. Some key changes in Council's carbon reporting in the last 12 years include:
- From 2018/19, Council was required to estimate wastewater process emissions. The emissions are estimated using the Water NZ model. For consistency, we've extrapolated these emissions to our original baseline to understand our original footprint (noting these are estimates only).
- In 2022 Toitū Envirocare introduced extra requirements for the CarbonReduce programme for categories 3–6 emissions reporting. This will mean future emissions inventories will have large increases in overall emissions, before we can look at opportunities to reduce these emissions.
We expect the Affordable Waters Reform will see emissions from these activities owned by the new regional entity. How that will change Council’s reporting on these (continued) local emissions is unknown at this time.
You can find out more about our emissions at Greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions reports.