Our climate change mitigation work involves reducing the amount of greenhouse gases emitted into the atmosphere by the land transport system.  

Transport emissions are a significant contributor to New Zealand’s greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Most of these emissions come from the vehicles using the land transport system, but transport infrastructure also creates greenhouse gases during its lifecycle of construction, operation and maintenance, as shown in the figure below.

Chart showing the sources of greenhouse gas emissions from land transport infrastructure, including embodied emissions from construction, emissions from maintenance and operations, and enabled emissions from vehicle use

Reducing emissions from the land transport system will require co-ordinated action from Waka Kotahi, central and local government authorities and the private sector to reduce emissions from all sources.

Emissions from vehicle use

Emissions from the vehicles using the land transport system (sometimes called enabled emissions) are the second largest source of GHG emissions in New Zealand, so this sector is expected to make a significant contribution to national emissions reduction targets. The wide-ranging transport-specific targets and actions that are contained in the emissions reduction plan (ERP) aim to reduce emissions associated with vehicle use by

  • designing land use and transport networks to avoid or reduce the need for light vehicle trips altogether
  • shifting from fossil-fuelled vehicles to walking, cycling or public transport, and
  • improving transport efficiency through low emissions vehicles and fuels.

Te hau mārohi ki anamata: towards a productive, sustainable and inclusive economy: Aotearoa New Zealand's first emissions reduction plan(external link)

More information about these initiatives can be found on our website.

Transport transition

Construction emissions

Construction emissions arise from the materials (eg concrete and steel) and activities (eg transport, earthworks and equipment use) involved in the construction of transport infrastructure. These are often referred to as the emissions ‘embodied’ in the infrastructure. 

The greatest opportunity to reduce embodied emissions lies in the integrated planning and design of transport infrastructure in an urban form that reduces travel demand and makes best use of the existing network. Where new infrastructure is required, we must build cleverly and efficiently.

The ERP does not contain any specific emission reduction targets or actions for infrastructure construction emissions. However, under the Carbon Neutral Government Programme we will be expected to measure, verify, report and reduce emissions from our construction and operational activities. 

We are working towards reducing embodied emissions in our infrastructure through developing and adopting our resource efficiency and waste minimisation strategy, together with use of our sustainability rating tools for high value projects.

Sustainability rating scheme

Carbon Neutral Government Programme(external link)

Resource efficiency and waste minimisation

Maintenance and operational (M&O) emissions

M&O emissions arise from the materials and activities required to operate and maintain the infrastructure over its service life (eg resurfacing materials and activities, inspection activities, and electricity used by lighting.

Like the embodied construction emissions, M&O emissions will be measured and reported on through the Carbon Neutral Government Programme, and reduction targets will be set. We are working towards reducing our M&O emissions through our resource efficiency and waste minimisation strategy and policy.

Resource efficiency and waste minimisation

Our policy

Our operational policy on climate change mitigation can be found in:

We are currently developing additional guidance to support implementation of this policy. This page will be updated once this is available. For further information contact



Resources and tools


Further information 

For further information contact