New ac­counts show en­vi­ron­ment’s value

The Timaru Herald - - FASHION&BEAUTY -

New Zealand’s green­house gas emis­sions in­creased 24 per cent between 1990 and 2015, the first re­port of a new sys­tem of eco­nomic ac­counts shows.

The ac­counts showed the im­pact of what hu­mans were do­ing to the nat­u­ral en­vi­ron­ment and what was be­ing done to mit­i­gate that, as well as the im­por­tance of nat­u­ral re­sources to the econ­omy, Sta­tis­tics New Zealand said.

From 1990 to 2015, to­tale­con­omy real GDP (gross do­mes­tic prod­uct) in­creased at a rate of 3.1 per cent a year while car­bon diox­ide equiv­a­lent emis­sions in­creased 0.9 per cent a year, driv­ing a de­cline in green­house gas in­ten­sity, the re­port said.

Emis­sions growth was 0.5 per cent a year for pri­mary in­dus­tries, 1.2 per cent for goods-pro­duc­ing in­dus­tries, and 2.2 per cent a year for ser­vice in­dus­tries.

In 2016, fish, tim­ber, and re­new­able en­ergy stocks were val­ued at $38.9 bil­lion, up 47 per cent from 2007. Fish, tim­ber, min­er­als, and re­new­able en­ergy con­trib­uted $2b to the econ­omy, up 25 per cent since 2007.

Spend­ing by lo­cal and cen­tral govern­ment on en­vi­ron­men­tal pro­tec­tion was $2b in 2016, up 17 per cent from 2009. That in­cluded the man­age­ment of waste­water or pests, and the wages and salaries of staff en­gaged in those ac­tiv­i­ties.

Gen­eral govern­ment in­vest­ment ex­pen­di­ture on en­vi­ron­men­tal pro­tec­tion de­clined from about 15 per cent to 10 per cent of to­tal in­vest­ment from 2009 to 2016.

In­vest­ment ex­pen­di­ture was the net change in the phys­i­cal as­sets used for en­vi­ron­men­tal pro­tec­tion, such as for waste­water re­moval or flood pro­tec­tion.

The av­er­age house­hold paid $380 in en­vi­ron­men­tal taxes in 2016. House­holds paid 13 per cent of en­vi­ron­men­tal taxes in 2016, up from 7 per cent in 1999.

Over the same pe­riod the per­cent­age paid by in­dus­try dropped from 93 per cent to 87 per cent.

From 1996 to 2012, 2.3 per cent of New Zealand’s land cover changed classes, ac­cord­ing to the re­port.

Tree-cov­ered ar­eas in­creased 199,547 hectares (2.2 per cent), while grass­land cover de­creased 214,581ha (1.6 per cent). Ar­ti­fi­cial sur­faces in­creased 24,220ha (10.9 per cent).

Changes in ice stor­age could af­fect re­new­able hy­dro­elec­tric­ity re­sources and sur­round­ing ecosys­tems. From 1996 to 2014, New Zealand’s es­ti­mated glacier ice vol­ume de­creased 35 per cent.

The air emis­sions ac­count showed five in­dus­tries recorded a de­crease in emis­sions.

Three of them did this while in­creas­ing eco­nomic out­put: fish­ing; min­ing; and trans­port equip­ment, ma­chin­ery and equip­ment man­u­fac­tur­ing. For those in­dus­tries eco­nomic ac­tiv­ity had de­cou­pled from air emis­sions.

Emis­sions in­creased at a faster rate than GDP for forestry; food, bev­er­age, and to­bacco prod­uct man­u­fac­tur­ing; petroleum, chem­i­cal, poly­mer, and rub­ber prod­uct man­u­fac­tur­ing; metal prod­uct man­u­fac­tur­ing; and to­tal man­u­fac­tur­ing. Green­house gas in­ten­sity had in­creased for those in­dus­tries.

Pri­mary in­dus­tries ac­counted for 57.1 per cent of car­bon diox­ide equiv­a­lent emis­sions in 2015, while goods pro­duc­ers ac­counted for 24.8 per cent, and ser­vice in­dus­tries 11.1 per cent. House­holds ac­counted for 6.9 per cent.

Sta­tis­tics NZ’s re­port said there were many gaps in the data avail­able for the en­vi­ron­men­tale­co­nomic ac­counts.

Among de­vel­op­ments to be pri­ori­tised in the short term were ac­counts for un­der­stand­ing the tran­si­tion to a low-emis­sions econ­omy. An­other was ecosys­tem ser­vices and a third was flow ac­counts for nat­u­ral re­sources. –Stuff

PHOTO: IAN FULLER

Between 1996 and 2014, es­ti­mated glacier ice vol­ume in New Zealand de­creased 35 per cent.

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