Environment Southland has reached a milestone towards its net zero Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions by 2050 target with the completion of an organisational GHG emissions baseline measurement report.
Environment Southland general manager strategy, science and engagement Rachael Millar said the measurement report would help the organisation understand emissions produced from operations, and will also help establish systems for ongoing measurement, reporting and management of performance.
“Environment Southland plays an important role in climate change action in Murihiku Southland. While a lot of our efforts are in the climate adaptation space, for example the maintenance and improvement of the region’s flood protection network, emissions reduction is also important and this report is a key step in our own emissions reduction journey,” she said.
The report was tabled at Wednesday’s Environment Southland Climate Change Subcommittee meeting.
In April 2023, Environment Southland councillors adopted an organisational target to reach net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. Net zero means cutting greenhouse gas emissions to as close to zero as possible, with any remaining emissions being offset through actions like planting trees.
The emissions report, which has been verified by a third party, establishes as a baseline that Environment Southland produced 2116 metric tonnes (mt) of GHG emissions during the 2022/23 financial year. Of the 2116mt, 815mt related to capital and extraordinary projects and the remaining 1301mt are considered to be business as usual.
Transportation and work-related services, motor vehicle usage, construction and extraordinary projects, and embodied emissions in capital construction, are the major contributors to Environment Southland’s baseline, accounting for almost 94% of total emissions.
“The report will now be used to inform recommendations for initial steps that can be taken, to establish an organisational emissions reduction pathway as well as sensible and achievable interim targets,” Rachael Millar said.
The proposed first step was establishing guiding principles to support an organisational emissions reduction journey, she said.
A ‘reduce as much as possible, before considering offset’ approach is being recommended.
The report notes that when developing emissions reduction opportunities it is recommended to consider reducing both emission source and source activity to ensure the most impact. This would need to be considered when scoping new projects and programmes, and ensuring full life-cycle analysis is included in the evaluation.
Potential opportunities to further align and collaborate with partner agencies will also be explored.
A Regional Climate Change Inter-agency Group made up of tangata whenua representatives, elected representatives, and key staff, of all councils in the region is working collaboratively to ensure the issues are being tackled at a regional level.
In undertaking this project, Environment Southland has followed the Ministry for the Environment’s detailed guidance and complied with the relevant ISO standards.