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New Zealand Sectors

What is New Zealandʼs pathway to limit global warming to 1.5°C?

The emissions intensity of energy demand in the building sector has been increasing over the last decade.

The energy mix for the building sector is mainly based on electricity contributing a 68% share in 2019. A 1.5°C compatible pathway would lead to a level of electrification of around an 85% by 2030, and up to 96% in 2050. The high share of renewable energy planned for the power generation (90% by 2025, 100% by 2035) would ensure the building sector is largely decarbonised. New Zealand would therefore likely see a pathway of declining emissions in this sector from current levels.

Increasing these renewable targets to a 1.5°C compatible 100% by 2030, along with increasing the use of hydrogen, could further decarbonise the sector.25 Our analysis shows that hydrogen could represent 4% of the building energy mix in 2030, and 16% by 2050. However, full electrification of buildings (heating, cooling, cooking) would remove the need to replace gas with hydrogen.

New Zealand has a Carbon Neutral Government Programme with a target for a carbon neutral public sector by 2025 where agencies will have to offset emissions they do not cut.17 New non-residential public sector buildings (valued over NZD 25m) will require a minimum 5-star green rating by 2022. The GreenStar rating entails an assessment across 10 different categories from direct impacts such as water use or materials to indoor air quality, emissions and energy use for example. The State Sector Decarbonisation Fund aims to replace public sector coal boilers although the government has not specified with which technology.17 The Building for Climate Change Program aims to set requirements for carbon emissions in building construction and decommissioning, and set a framework for operational (energy and water) efficiency.26

Policy options for New Zealand include setting targets for non-public buildings; supporting energy efficient appliances; building renovations for energy efficiency; electrification of heating, cooling, cooking; and rooftop solar and battery storage.

1 CAT. New Zealand, CAT Climate Target Update Tracker. Climate Action Tracker. (2021).

2 Ministry for the Environment. Te hau mārohi ki anamata Transitioning to a low-emissions and climate-resilient future Have your say and shape the emissions reduction plan. (2021).

3 CAT. New Zealand – September Update. Climate Action Tracker. (2021).

4 Daalder, M. New Paris Target Might Actually Reduce Emissions, A Bit . Newsroom, (2021).

5 Gütschow, J., Jeffery, L., Gieseke, R. & Günther, A. The PRIMAP-hist national historical emissions time series (1850-2017). V.2.1. GFZ Data Serv. (2019).

6 United Nations Climate Change Secretariat. Summary Of GHG Emissions For New Zealand. 0–3 (2021).

7 Ministry for the Environment. New Zealand’s Greenhouse Gas Inventory 1990-2018. New Zealand Government. (2020).

8 Ministry for the Environment. New Zealand’s Fourth Biennial Report Under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. (2019).

9 Woods, M., Parker, D. & Shaw, J. Government delivers next phase of climate action . Beehive. (2021).

10 Ministry of Business Innovation & Employment. Energy in New Zealand 20. (2020).

11 Climate Bonds Initiative. AUS & NZ Green Infrastructure list. Climate Bonds Initiative. (2018).

12 Ministry of Business Innovation & Employment. Energy strategies for New Zealand. New Zealand Government. (2021).

13 EECA. Clean and Clever Energy Progress Report. (2020).

14 He Waka Eke Noa Steering Group. He Waka Eke Noa Discussion Document, Steering Group Discussion Document to support Partnership Targeted Engagement Nov/Dec 2021. (2021).

15 Government of New Zealand. New Zealand’s Action on Climate Change. (2016).

16 New Zealand Government. Reducing government fleet emissions. New Zealand Government Procurement and Property. (2021).

17 New Zealand Government. Public sector to be carbon neutral by 2025. Beehive. (2020).

18 Ministry for Primary Industries. One Billion Trees Programme.

19 Beehive. New Zealand to phase down use of HFCs from 2020. Beehive. (2018).

20 Ministry of Business Innovation & Employment. Unlocking our energy productivity and renewable potential : New Zealand energy efficiency and conservation strategy 2017-2022. (2017).

21 Woods, M., Parker, D. & Shaw, J. Government delivers next phase of climate action. Beehive. (2021).

22 Climate Change Commission. _Ināia tonu nei : a low emissions future for Aotearoa. (2021).

23 Climate Action Tracker. New Zealand. Climate Action Tracker. (2020).

24 Woods, M. Major contract awarded to power NZ Battery investigation . Beehive. (2021).

25 New Zealand Government. A vision for hydrogen in New Zealand, Green Paper. (2019).

26 New Zealand Government. Building for climate change. Building Performance. (2021).

27 Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency. Clean Car Discount overview. Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency. (2021).

28 Ministry of Transport. Climate change — emissions work programme | Ministry of Transport. (2021).

29 New Zealand Parliament. Land Transport (Clean Vehicles) Amendment Bill 2021: Bills Digest 2654 . New Zealand Parliament. (2021).

30 Ministry for the Environment. New Zealand’s projected greenhouse gas emissions to 2050. (2021).

31 Including the residual methane emissions left from the separate methane target for 2050.

32 According to national projections, LULUCF emissions could reach -26 to -31 MtCO₂e by 2040. See the Government 2020 for LULUCF projection estimates.30

33 While global cost-effective pathways assessed by the IPCC Special Report 1.5°C provide useful guidance for an upper-limit of emissions trajectories for developed countries, they underestimate the feasible space for such countries to reach net zero earlier. The current generation of models tend to depend strongly on land-use sinks outside of currently developed countries and include fossil fuel use well beyond the time at which these could be phased out, compared to what is understood from bottom-up approaches. The scientific teams which provide these global pathways constantly improve the technologies represented in their models – and novel CDR technologies are now being included in new studies focused on deep mitigation scenarios meeting the Paris Agreement. A wide assessment database of these new scenarios is not yet available; thus, we rely on available scenarios which focus particularly on BECCS as a net-negative emission technology. Accordingly, we do not yet consider land-sector emissions (LULUCF) and other CDR approaches which developed countries will need to implement in order to counterbalance their remaining emissions and reach net zero GHG are not considered here due to data availability.

34 See CAT for full explanation.

35 Methane from agriculture and waste sectors.

36 According to national projections, LULUCF emissions could reach -36 to -41 MtCO₂e by 2040. See the Climate Action Tracker assessment on New Zealand (July 2020 update) for assumptions on LULUCF projections.

New Zealandʼs energy mix in the buildings sector

petajoule per year

Scaling
SSP1 Low CDR reliance
2019203020402050200
SSP1 High CDR reliance
2019203020402050200
Low Energy Demand
2019203020402050200
High Energy Demand - Low CDR reliance
2019203020402050200
  • Oil and e-fuels
  • Coal
  • Natural gas
  • Biomass
  • Biofuel
  • Biogas
  • Hydrogen
  • Electricity
  • Heat

New Zealandʼs buildings sector direct CO₂ emissions (of energy demands)

MtCO₂/yr

Unit
0.512219902010203020502070
  • Historical emissions
  • Low Energy Demand
  • SSP1 Low CDR reliance
  • SSP1 High CDR reliance
  • High Energy Demand - Low CDR reliance

1.5°C compatible buildings sector benchmarks

Direct CO₂ emissions and direct electrification rates from illustrative 1.5°C pathways for New Zealand

Indicator
2019
2030
2040
2050
Decarbonised buildings sector by
Direct CO₂ emissions
MtCO₂/yr
2
1
0 to 1
0
2035 to 2037
Indicator
2019
2030
2040
2050
Share of electricity
Percent
68
82 to 84
91 to 92
93 to 95
Share of heat
Percent
3
0 to 2
0 to 3
4
Share of hydrogen
Percent
0
0 to 4
0 to 12
0 to 16

Footnotes