Emissions Reduction Plan

In response to the declared climate emergency, the government released its first Emissions Reductions Plan (ERP). Waka Kotahi supported the ERP’s development and contributed significantly to transport and planning and infrastructure chapters.

The ERP focuses on climate change mitigation and sets out the actions needed to achieve a 41 percent reduction in emissions from the transport sector by 2035 (from 2019 levels). The plan sets out three focus areas to guide the approach to reducing transport emissions – activity in all focus areas is required.

Funding received from the Climate Emergency Response Fund in May 2022 will support Waka Kotahi and approved organisations to deliver ERP activities. We will need to develop a prioritised emissions reduction work programme in 2022/23. This will be progressed with the Ministry of Transport as the Decarbonising Transport Action Plan is developed.

Transport greenhouse gas emissions

Transport, primarily land transport, is the second largest source of greenhouse gas emissions in Aotearoa and the country’s fastest growing source of domestic emissions.

Greenhouse gas emissions from the land transport system have continued to increase over several decades.

Greenhouse gas emissions from the land transport system

Graph showing greenhouse gas emissions from the land transport system between 2016 to a target for 2026

As the lead land transport system investor, planner and regulator, Waka Kotahi is committed to working with its partners to tackle the system-wide challenge of reducing greenhouse gas emissions from the land transport system. Over the next year, we will work toward this goal by implementing the government’s first Emissions Reduction Plan. We will also continue to implement Toitū te Taiao, our sustainability action plan, and will continue to work on reducing emissions from infrastructure development.

Adopting low emissions vehicles

Through the Clean Car Discount, we paid $121 million in rebates to New Zealanders who purchased low or zero carbon emissions vehicles with a three star or higher safety rating. Since the scheme began, more than 63,000 of these vehicles were registered.

The proportion of the light vehicle fleet that is low or no carbon is small (1.1 percent) but is increasing.

Percentage of the fleet that is low or no carbon

Graph showing percentage of the fleet that is low or no carbon between 2015 to a target for 2026

To achieve the ERP target of 30 percent zero-emissions vehicles in the light vehicle fleet by 2035 requires further investment and policy changes across the transport system. We will continue working with our partners on initiatives to increase the adoption of low emissions vehicles.

Working to reduce our emissions

The Carbon Neutral Government Programme aims to accelerate emissions reduction from the public sector. We continued to reduce our corporate emissions during 2021/22 and are in the process of receiving Toitū certification for our third year.

We continue to improve our understanding of our carbon emissions and to progress the development of an environment and social responsibility policy.The scale, volume and nature of our infrastructure activities mean we have significant embodied carbon emissions. We are working towards reducing embodied emissions by implementing Te Hiringa o Te Taiao, our resource efficiency and strategy, and using our sustainability rating tools for high-value projects.

Through the New Zealand Upgrade Programme we are working with our partners to consider lower carbon alternatives.

Working together to protect the environment

To achieve a low carbon, safe and healthy land transport system, we need to work with the rest of government, iwi and our local partners. We are establishing the foundations needed to support biodiversity, including the development of guidelines, standards, research and trials.

Our updated environmental and social responsibility standard provides guidance for land transport projects and helps us to drive sustainable sourcing of materials, waste minimisation and emissions reductions.

Our sustainability rating scheme assessments aim to improve our environmental and sustainable outcomes for high value projects.