New accounts show environment’s value
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
Between 1996 and 2014, estimated glacier ice volume in New Zealand decreased 35 per cent.