Guardians of the Bays are considering their options after hearing that Wellington International Airport (WIAL) have today accepted the Notice of Requirement (NOR) and airport expansion on the Eastern Side of the Airport into the Miramar Golf Course.

The hearing of WIALs NOR expansion plans faced a large number of objections and criticism from the community and environmental groups due to the lack of consideration of climate change, community amenity (especially noise) and long term economic resilience.

The expansion is based on bogus forecasts of passenger numbers doubling by 2040, and lack of climate change modelling that doesn’t take into account significant climate change policy changes and air travel reductions through out the world.

Guardians of the Bays Co-Chair Yvonne Weeber wonders “What planet are they on?”. The expansion should be considered a pipe dream of days long past. “It’s going to cost hundreds of millions, with ratepayers possibly underwriting a significant amount of this expansion. People are reducing their air travel and it’s going to become the dictionary definition of a stranded asset. WIAL should be working with the community to increase amenity rather than reducing it with this Eastern Side Airport expansion”.

Yvonne Weeber
Co-Chair Guardians of the Bays
Phone 0272225390

Jeff Weir
Executive Member Guardians of the Bays and Strathmore Park Resident
Phone 021 0252 3031

In August last year, the Wellington City Council declared a climate emergency, and released a blueprint outlining intentions and objectives to make the city carbon neutral by 2050. With a 30 year horizon, it was hard to get past the irony of the program name “Te Atakura, First to Zero.” Hopefully, by then, Wellington will not be first to zero, as many cities will have reached that goal much earlier. But it was a start, and intentions were clearly laid out.

There was therefore a lot of anticipation about the implementation plan, meant to articulate how we planned to achieve these targets. But despite the climate emergency, there hasn’t yet been much sign of urgency.

It wasn’t till one year later (on August 6 2020), that the implementation plan was released, without any media announcement. So it was mostly unnoticed, which might have been intentional – the document is 55 pages long and its lack of ambition is shocking when considering what’s at stake. It’s empty of real actions that could change the course of Wellington’s greenhouse gas emissions and ensure the city does its part to mitigate climate change.

What should we have been able to expect from the implementation plan? There should be binding, bold and clearly aligned actions for the council to deliver, with requirements and delivery strongly linked. According to this document, most of the emissions are coming from transport, so this is where the strongest actions should have been found. Alas, the plan is full of “advocating” with plenty of “investigating opportunities”. In other words, the strategy relies on “best efforts” and “best intentions”.

On page 12, it states:

“… Transportation: At 53% of the city’s emissions, we need a rapid reduction in fossil fuel vehicles in favour of public transport, electric vehicles, shared mobility, cycling, walking and remote working. Aviation and marine account for almost 20% of this sector, but have limited immediately available solutions; therefore a move away fossil fuel road vehicles will need to be the biggest challenge of this decade.”

The airport’s emissions, which amount to 20% of Wellington transport emissions (25% of ALL emissions according to other reports) are left unaddressed. For the remaining 80%, the only substantial actions are more cycleways, and rapid transit which as we sadly know won’t see daylight for at least another 10 years and are far from under the Council’s control.

The implementation plan sees great opportunities in switching to electric vehicles which will be achieved by:

“… advocating to central Government for regulatory and policy changes for EVs and renewable electricity generation”

To say this is underwhelming is a euphemism: the Council is not committing to do anything but watch and advocate, debate and identify opportunities. Yet, countless cities have already set a firm timeframe to ban fossil-fuel from CBD streets in 2030, some by 2025.

This implementation plan was the perfect opportunity for Wellington to issue a similar statement, as suggested by Councillor Tamatha Paul:

“… Auckland City have committed to being fossil-fuel free CBD streets by 2030. I want us to declare the same thing.”

The implementation plan was the precise moment to declare exactly that, followed by a by-law to make it certain. Additionally, since EVs are the answer to less emissions, the council could have committed to make the new tunnel dedicated to EVs only, should the tunnel come before rapid transit. This is a missed opportunity.

Thankfully, the plan outlines one very sensible measure on page 18:

“Incentivising city-wide remote working – has the potential to reduce city-wide emissions …”

Yet this has been contradicted by some councillors who have called for the exact opposite after the lockdown, to “save the CBD” (suburban businesses, you’re on your own!) The Wellington Regional Economic Development Agency is even spending $75,000 to attract people back into the CBD. As does the mayor, who is calling for people to come back into the CBD:

“GREAT to be down to Covid Level One. Now let’s have all our people back in town – our business community and their employees need us all doing that! …”

Of course, the elephants in the room are the big contributors to the GHG emissions: aviation and marine activities. Here, while 92% of the public says emissions must be reduced “no matter what” (page 15), the Council decides … to do nothing, despite the 92 per cent, and despite the very real threat of climate change. This is behaviour commonly known as “procrastination’ that has led to the climate debacle we are in, a crisis so severe that experts estimate its economic cost will be 5 to 6 times the cost of COVID-19.

As suggested several times, the only way forward, if Wellington is serious about reducing its GHG, is to put a sinking cap on emissions from these big polluters. While not stopping people from flying, it would force the industry to adapt to the pollution it is responsible for. The Council should create a framework to contain the emission of its two biggest polluters, located in the middle of the city.

This is a timely reminder that, while the city has been trying to bring down its emissions, the airport’s have gone up by a staggering 45% since 2001, and will increase even more if the expansion plan goes ahead. In a time of climate emergency, the Council could commit to not issuing resource consents for the Airport’s expansion. Upon arrival of clean planes , the growth could resume, with strict conditions that emissions don’t increase.

Even with its core operations (“The Council itself”, page 36), the Council fails to set ambitious actions. It starts with a 2030 goal to convert its transport fleet to electric (page 39):

“Alongside identifying opportunities to reduce the size of the Council’s vehicle fleet, a December 2030 timeframe has been proposed to replace all Council owned fossil fuel driven cars, SUVs, vans and utes with zero emission electric replacements. Electrifying the fleet has the potential to reduce our corporate transport carbon emissions …”

While this is laudable (but note the “identifying opportunities” part), why did it stop there. There should be a change to the procurement process for subcontractors, setting up a minimum share of electrified tools, trucks and machinery to be eligible to work for the Council. A gradual increase over the years (20% minimum by 2025, 40% by 2027, etc) would give a firm indication to the industry it is time to undertake the transition, beyond the narrow perimeter of the Council owned fleet.

Finally, the implementation plan is not supported by reliable numbers. It starts, on page 12, by confusing the efforts that will be required, by which decade:

“… Council has committed to ensuring Wellington is a net zero emission city by 2050, with a commitment to making the most significant cuts (43% [from 2001]) in the next 10 years.”

The problem is that a couple of lines below, a table shows that Wellington has already reduced emissions by 10% in 2020 from 2001. With a reduction target of 43% by 2030 from 2001, the reduction between 2020 and 2030 is of 33 points. In the same table, the reduction target between 2040 and 2050 is of 32 points (from 68% to 100%). So, in this plan, the reduction efforts will be steep (33 points) between now and 2030, then relax a little (25 points), then steep again (32 points)! These numbers contradict the story that the commitment will be more significant in the first 10 years – 32 points (or a 43% reduction compared to 2001) is what’s needed to get to zero in 2050.

On page 18, the plan sums up all the 28 actions it has listed and concludes it has the potential to reduce emissions by … 14%! In other words, the implementation plan, with all its advocating, recognizes it will fail:

“This plan includes 28 committed and recommended actions with associated GHG reductions that can be measured. These actions are estimated to result in an 80,043 tCO2e reduction per annum, or a 14% reduction, in city-wide emissions from 2001 levels at 2030”

So the actions are not only unambitious and weak, but also they are insufficient to reach the targets the 2019 blueprint has set out … How can we, as a city, can be satisfied with that?

Overall, the implementation plan is a missed opportunity. It reiterates some lukewarm targets, set a year ago, and does not contain any new meaningful actions to significantly curb emissions in Wellington. It leaves the market to act on its own, and it hopes that Central Government will do the hard work, which makes the City Council a simple observer, with plenty of advocating to do.

Can Councillors and the Mayor say they are truly satisfied with it? Do they think it really lays mechanisms to curb the city’s emissions “no matter what”? Is there something more coming (another document?) which will gives confidence that climate change will not be left to luck in Wellington? Everyone knows that “economic urgency” is not enough to justify lack of action, so why is this plan so pale?

We have less than 3 weeks to collect submissions to the Environment Court that are opposing the proposed runway extension into Cook Strait. We have many wonderful groups and individuals who support us but need to get the 1000s of residents who will be adversely affected by this extension to have their voices heard by the court as well. The Airport and Council have done a great job in getting misinformation, spin and fantasies about limitless economic growth out into the public and there are a lot of misconceptions we have to battle to rouse people from their complacency. For example:

Everyone of the 1000s of residents living along the heavy truck hauling route – did you know up to 30 trucks an hour, filled with rubble, will rumble past your homes day and night, clogging up traffic at major choke points for up to 4 years?

Everyone who uses Lyall Bay recreationally – surfers, swimmers, surf life savers, dog walkers, fishermen, kai moana collectors – did you know about the 300m (or is it 250m? Different numbers in different reports, same with the final length of the runway) exclusion zone around the construction of both runway and wave focusing device which will make large parts of the bay basically off-limits for up to 4 years?

Note that this image shows exclusion zones that are less than the 250-300m ones mentioned in the reports
Note that this image shows exclusion zones that are less than the 250-300m ones mentioned in the reports

Everyone who cares about our environment – did you know that the environmental impact reports are fatally flawed and couldn’t undertake proper sampling or data collection as the airport deemed it ‘too costly’ and the Cook Strait was ‘too difficult to work in’? For example, out of 6 boreholes meant to determine the seismic stability of the Bay, only 1 was ever completed!

Everyone who cares about climate change – did you know that the added emissions, should the long-haul flights ever arrive, will sky rocket Wellington City’s emissions – already 25% of our total emissions profile – by at least 60million tonnes of CO2e? And that both major access roads to the airport are some of the most threatened by rising sea levels – something that isn’t even mentioned in the 5000+ pages of technical reports?

Everyone who cares about our elected Councillors wasting ratepayer money on corporate handouts and subsidies to billion dollar multi-nationals who are laughing all the way to the bank, whilst community groups like the Guardians of the Bays have to fund-raise and give up their members’ precious time and energy to fight them in court – Please join us to make our voices heard: We will run an information workshop for the public on August 1, 7pm at Haitaitai Bowling Club.

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Our Co-Chair, Dr Sea Rotmann, made an impassioned plea to the City Councillors during consultation on the WCC Low Carbon Capital Plan the other day: “Please start taking this seriously, climate change is a reality and it is hitting us hard already. You cannot support an extension to the runway and claim that your efforts here are serious.”

Sea talked a little bit about her background as Environmental Scientists for over 20 years and how she studied anthropogenic impacts on coral reefs for almost 10 years. “I have witnessed the bleaching event on the Great Barrier reef in 1998, and studied one in Papua New Guinea in 2001. They were nothing compared to the massive bleaching and die-off of coral reefs we are witnessing right now. I was lucky enough to have done my Honours research on the most beautiful place in Australia, Lizard Island. Now, 95% of its reefs, some of the most pristine on the planet, are bleached and less than 50% will recover. We are responsible for the die-off of species on which 1/3 of the marine environment depend on, which have lived for 450 million years, and yet 200 years of our rampant fossil fuel use are killing them in our lifetime.”

Why do coral reefs matter to the Wellington City Council? Because climate change is a global phenomenon and everything is interconnected, particularly the ocean surrounding our fair capital. New Zealand already has one of the highest per capita emissions and the Council, despite valid attempts and claims to be serious, has also increased its emissions by 1.5% since its target goal of 3% reduction in 2013. It also managed to ignore all promises related to the airport and aviation emissions from its 2013 plan (must be 3 of the 4 out of 34 action points that weren’t implemented!?). Worse, the only mention of aviation in the 2016 draft plan is this, on page 10:

On the other hand, we have a major international airport within the city limits, so we are credited with the emissions of nearly all of the region’s domestic air travel. This creates multiple complex challenges – with less forestry we aren’t able to offset as much; and with aviation being a substantial contributor to our transport emissions, greenhouse gas reductions will be driven by the availability of international solutions for aviation such as biofuels or gains in aircraft efficiency.

So, from, in 2013 promising to: 1. Investigate emissions-reduction options under the proposed extension of the airport runway; 2. Develop an agreement with Wellington International Airport; and 3. Advocate for climate mitigation in the aviation sector, we have now gone to “Let’s wait and see what wonderful technology and international solutions will come up and press on in the meantime with extending the runway – with ratepayer handouts to a billion dollar company.”

But this isn’t all – our (formerly green) Mayor has taken it upon herself to regularly and publicly proclaim that the runway extension will indeed REDUCE emissions! Others have already pointed out the insanity of these claims, e.g. here. Sea pulled out the Council’s own reports to show why the Mayor’s claim that long-haul flights would have fewer emissions as people didn’t need to stop in Sydney or Auckland was completely moot:

InterVISTAs diversion
Note that this report also states:

at a market growth rate of around 2% a year, the AKL-WLG diversion could potentially be replaced in a year or less.

Now, we have heard at our last Council submission that none of the Councillors have read any of the reports for which they signed off $3m of ratepayer funding to the airport. This does not excuse not remembering this, very simple and illustrative slide that was shown to them by InterVISTAs in October 2015 during a presentation on the demand forecast of extra passengers:
InterVISTAS LT forecast
As the Dom Post pointed out, this is an increase in 16.1 MILLION extra passengers by 2060! A return flight NZ-Singapore is 3.54t CO2e per passenger, so this would make an extra 57 million tonnes (!) of CO2e on Wellington’s books, thanks to this proposal. The average car emission is 118g/km, so if you cycle for 10km into town instead of driving, you save a bit over 1kg of CO2e. That makes just under 1000 avoided car trips to town for 1 tonne saving and over 50 million (!) avoided car trips to make up for these extra passengers – although we’re pretty sure they’re not cycling to town either after arriving in Wellington, so those extra emissions would need to be added on top.

And yet it gets worse: Wellington’s current emissions from aviation are already almost as high as petrol emissions from land transport – and that excludes international flights!
Wgtn emissions
Seeing international flights are not accounted for, but add just under 25% of domestic emissions (which were almost 247tCO2e in 2012/13, or 19% of gross emissions), we get to almost 25% of Wellington’s emissions being from aviation – especially with the increased numbers of both domestic and international flights the airport has been reporting. This is BEFORE extending the runway and adding an extra 57 million tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions to our books.

We applaud that the Council wants to “position ourselves as a leader on climate change and one of the Rockefeller Foundation’s 100 Resilient Cities Network” but it takes more than a few smart energy challenges and cycle ways to seriously work on becoming a low carbon capital. Because that is the only way forward if a city as exposed to sea level rises and increased storm events as ours, wants to safely make it into a new century.


Dr Sea Rotmann, May 3, 2016

It is good to see vision for a Low Carbon capital, with planning that will increase cycle-ways, electric charging stations, higher density building, ongoing smart energy challenges and phasing out minimum parking requirement. We like the statement “acting to reduce emissions helps the city as a whole” on page 6. However, this unfortunately cannot be taken as a serious statement with the airport and aviation emissions only being mentioned once in the plan on page 10: “On the other hand, we have a major international airport within the city limits, so we are credited with the emissions of nearly all of the region’s domestic air travel. This creates multiple complex challenges – with less forestry we aren’t able to offset as much; and with aviation being a substantial contributor to our transport emissions, greenhouse gas reductions will be driven by the availability of international solutions for aviation such as biofuels or gains in aircraft efficiency.”

Waiting for international solutions for aviation and not counting our international aviation emissions as part of the city’s emissions profile, as well as supporting the extension of the runway to double flights (including long-haul international flights) by 2030, is highly disingenuous. According to Adam Voulstaker’s numbers (

 Nearly a quarter of all CO2 emissions in Wellington are from the airport according to a URS council commissioned report – this is not mentioned in the plan.

 Domestic Aviation emissions have increased 50% in Wellington from 2001, almost equal to petrol emissions.

When setting emission targets we need to keep mindful of:

  1. If we don’t meet said targets, we will get further behind, and the damage to infrastructure, roads, seawalls, and coastline property will require further Council funds and no doubt fossil fuel construction emissions to repair. Hence, the targets are only realistic if we stick to them every year.
  2. The changing situation (as outlined by scientific consensus) and the need to adjust our targets if changing climate and sea-level rise predictions worsen.

With this in mind I would like to recommend the following action points from WCC:

  • Adoption of a reliable means of being accountable for set targets, preferably carried out by a non WCC expert body, with a meaningful system of addressing failure to reach targets. This is to help ensure WCC doesn’t continues miss it’s targets as occurred 2013, when the target of 3% reduction resulted in a 1.5% increase in emissions (p.15 Draft Annual Plan). Investigation of why this occurred needs to be undertaken, and addressed. And this excludes counting aviation emissions properly, which would have increased the % of missed targets.
  • Given the accelerated climate change we are currently seeing, all targets should be checked with scientific experts, and the 2020 target is dubious. WCC have changed the base year to 2014/15 (previously 2003). This seemingly is used to justifiy a change from the original 40% 2020 target to the new 10-15% 2020 reduction. However, emissions only dropped by 1.8% between 2000/01 and 2014/15, so we have 4 years to make up the 38.2% reduction to meet the 40% target that was set. So let’s target 38.2% reduction by 2020.
  • Emissions need to be honest so inclusion of International aviation (and agriculture) are essential. Domestic aviation was 17.5% of emissions (2010) and 19% (2015), but didn’t include international, which rose by 11% in 2015/16. We are told there is no data, so let’s get some before supporting the runway extension to attract more long-haul, international flights.
  • A team of people dedicated to working with the community to provide accurate data, and positive options for Wellingtonians to contribute at a personal, local and national level to slow the rate of climate change. People need to be assisted to move from a mindset of unfettered consumerism and waste production, toward the real environmental cost of purchases, activities and waste. Making a difference to the transport emissions will only happen if there is an urgent change in people’s attitudes, expectations and behavior. An example may be a move toward more skype conferences rather than air travel where travelling is not essential.
  • WCC to fully commit to divesting from fossil fuels in their own investment portfolio, in order to take a stand against fossil fuel exploration and extraction. The books of fossil fuel companies already have 5 times the amount of fossil fuels capable of raising the global temperature by the critical two degrees. Dunedin City Council has already made the commitment to this, and we understand is currently being considered by Auckland Council. This may mean breaking some of its cozy relationship with Infratil and its various fossil fuel-dependent subsidiaries such as NZ Bus and the Wellington International Airport.
  • Relinquish the airport extension plan as it runs counter to reducing emissions. No figures have been provided to back up the notion that somehow this plan will reduce emissions, but there are projected figures that indicate the opposite (2014 URS greenhouse gas report). If you add international flights but don’t decrease domestic how does that result in decreased emissions. Surely overseas visitors will wish to visit Christchurch or other centres whilst holidaying here. We should be encouraging people to begin reducing their air-travel not making it easier for them. Air travel is usually the largest emission source for the individual if they make one overseas flight to London equivalent per year.
  • The climate change initiatives must not work in isolation, but be supported by other arms/policies of council. The airport runway extension team, for instance, need to be working with the climate change team. See P13: “Action on climate change mitigation and adaptation makes sense economically as well as environmentally”.
  • Further thought also needs to be given to the needs for adaptation. How is coastal-lying infrastructure and residents being prepared for future changes? How resilient and sustainable is this airport where it is currently located?

 by Michael Forbes
Wellington City councillors have spent the past two days hearing what members of the public think the capital's rates ...


Wellington City councillors have spent the past two days hearing what members of the public think the capital’s rates should be spent on.

If Wellington City Council needs a way to keep the rates down, it could always lighten the pay packets of almost 200 staff who earn more than $100,000.

That was the rather blunt suggestion from the Mt Victoria Residents Association during public hearings on this year’s annual plan.

The council has proposed an average rates increase of 3.8 per cent for 2016/17 but has stated its desire to get that down to at least 3.6 per cent before the rates are struck in June.

Living wage advocates have congratulated the council for paying giving some of its staff a pay rise, but has urged it to ...


Living wage advocates have congratulated the council for paying giving some of its staff a pay rise, but has urged it to do more.

The forecast residential rates increase is 5.3 per cent before growth.

Association spokeswoman Sue Watt said Mt Victoria residents were not happy with those projections, particularly when a record number of 192 council staff took home more than $100,000 in 2015.

A proposal to extend Wellington Airport's runway by 354 metres has been a hot topic during public hearings over the city ...


A proposal to extend Wellington Airport’s runway by 354 metres has been a hot topic during public hearings over the city council’s annual plan.

About 35 individuals and organisations made submissions on Tuesday, many commenting on the big projects Wellington has on the boil.

Some of the popular ideas were the proposal for establishing an urban development agency, which could play the property market and drive major developments by packaging land acquisitions.

The was also plenty of support for getting moving on earthquake strengthening the town hall.

Less popular was the proposal to extend Wellington Airport’s runway by 354 metres at a cost of $300m, $90m of which is expected to come from city ratepayers.

Dr Sea Rotmann​, from community group Guardians of the Bay, said the council’s stated aim of being a “low carbon capital” was a hollow statement if it wanted to encourage more long-haul flights.

If annual passenger traffic in Wellington grew to the forecast 16.1 million in 2060 with a runway extension that would translate to a significant increase in emissions, she said.

OraTaiao: The NZ Climate and Health Council is calling for an independent health check on Wellington Airport’s expensive plans to extend the runway into Lyall Bay.

Aviation makes a significant contribution to climate-damaging emissions – the average Wellingtonian’s footprint is 5.32 CO2eq tonnes annually with almost 20% from domestic flights.

“These emissions contribute to climate change, a leading global threat to health,” says OraTaiao co-convenor Dr Rhys Jones. “An extension of the runway would exacerbate this situation.”

Each additional flight, particularly international, adds enormously to our overall emissions footprint. For example, one person flying return to Hong Kong burns up 4.0 tonnes, and London return 7.9 tonnes.

“The world has agreed on a pathway towards zero net global emissions this century,” says Dr Jones. “Successful, thriving cities will be those who develop along this trajectory. The runway extension would take Wellington in exactly the wrong direction – for our economy and for our health.”

“At the moment we’re flying blind,” says Dr Jones. “Neither the airport nor the Council even know much the extension will increase emissions.”

“The only reference to climate by the airport to date has been the viability of the runway extension with increasing sea levels and extreme weather events. This ignores the high health costs to all of us from escalating emissions as the airport expects passenger numbers to double by 2030.”

“A health check on Wellington’s airport runway extension plans is urgently needed,” says Dr Jones.

To the sound of bugles bicycle bells, the Council Annual plan 2016-2017 arrived yesterday.

Link: Council 2016 – 2017 Annual Plan

Wrapped up with the 2015-2016 proposal is the “Draft Low Carbon Capital Plan,” where we minions get until 29th April to hand in our feedback.

2016 Low Carbon Capital Plan – adoption of a plan to reduce emissions in a constructive and business-friendly way. The plan details how the Council plans to reduce carbon emissions in the city and from Council operations.

Link: 2016 Draft Low Carbon Capital Plan

Open up the Low Carbon plan and you get an angel riding a bicycle. I think it’s an angel, I can’t be sure from that angle. They do appear to have a bell though so that’s nice.


The 2016 Low carbon plan is 46 pages of stuff that has already been said 3 years ago in the 2013 climate change plan.

Anyway….open up page 10 of the 2016 Low Carbon Plan and it says….

Page 10: On the other hand, we have a major international airport within the city limits, so we are credited with the emissions of nearly all of the region’s domestic air travel. This creates multiple complex challenges – with less forestry we aren’t able to offset as much; and with aviation being a substantial contributor to our transport emissions, greenhouse gas reductions will be driven by the availability of international solutions for aviation such as biofuels or gains in aircraft efficiency.

Basically saying throw your hands up in the air because there is nothing you can do about it at a council level. Sounds like the basin reserve.

This is on par with the 2013 Climate Change Plan on pages 38 & 39 where it says ‘major shareholder, nothing we can do, the airlines themselves will sort it yada yada.’

The 2013 Climate Change Plan also shows this chart showing the Wellington City greenhouse gas inventory 2009/2010 with aviation pumping out 199.8 kT CO²-e & 17.5% of total emissions in Wellington.


The 2013 Climate Change plan does actually say, The Council will work with the airport to assess the climate change impacts of the runway extension and identify mitigation opportunities. So do keep an eye out for what that is amongst the $500 BAZILLION in economic benefits.

In the ‘2016 draft low carbon plan,’ it has 46 pages and it only mentions aviation twice, the rest is token gestures on silly targets. Note they didn’t hit the 2013 target. Whoops.

Page 15:However we failed to meet our 2013 target of a 3% reduction in emissions with the city registering a 1.5% increase for that period.

Cripes, up 1.5%, better get the local industrial people to do some carbon swaps on the exchange then.

Point is, where do these numbers come from? If the local boy racers leave their cars running in the car park, who is standing next to the exhaust collecting CO² particles?

No one. It’s all statistical modelling in excel 2013. Probably.

The table below is the current council website for emission targets for 2013. I cannot work out where they have got these figures from, they do not tally anywhere.

Every other number shown post 2013 has been lifted from the 2014 URS Greenhouse gas inventory report, a report with the councils name on it. “Prepared for Wellington City Council.”

Council website


Look at Aviation on the council chart, already up to 19% and 244 thousands of tonnes of CO² in only 3 years. Remember the 2009/10 figure was 17.5% and 199.8 thousands of tonnes of CO² ?

Now go to the council commissioned 2014 URS Greenhouse gas inventory report and have a look at this table for Wellington City..

If you squint the only thing that tallies with the council figure is the domestic aviation figure 244 thousand tonnes in 2012/13.



Can anyone get in touch and tell me where the council got their figures for their chart on their website, because their figures do not tally with the 2014 URS report?

  • For 2012/13, if you add up petrol, diesel, bus diesel, bus elec, rail elec, rail diesel, light fuel, lpg you get 453 thousand tonnes.
    Is that what the council have put down as their 2013 455 thousand figure for land transport?
  • Do the same for 2009/10, add up petrol, diesel, bus diesel, bus elec, rail elec, rail diesel, light fuel, lpg you get 474 thousand tonnes (not including marine diesel at 0.943).
    In the councils chart it shows all transport minus aviation at 397 thousand tonnes…..Who knows what is going on here please?

Anyway, have a look at these from the 2014 URS greenhouse gas report

  1. Aviation emissions rising


2. Aviation has increased 50% from 2001, almost equal to petrol emissions.

Page Summary XV: “Regional emissions from aviation have increased by approximately 50% from 2000/01 levels. For Wellington City, aviation emissions are almost equal to that of petrol emissions.

3. Aviation figures do not include international travel

Page Summary X: Due to data limitations, the study does not assess emissions from international aviation and international shipping.

4. Data based on 2006/07 fuel usage & international travel missing which is another ~25% on top which makes aviation ~305 thousand tonnes of CO².

Page 30: Chart showing aviation, fuel data from 2006/07, no international travel, which we are told expanded 11% this year 2015-2016.


5. Self explanatory

Page 73: Reductions in petrol and marine fuel use were offset mostly by an increase in aviation fuel use.

6. No international aviation emissions

Page 84: “Emissions from domestic aviation have increased significantly over the reporting period. The same is expected for international air travel. However, at this stage, emissions from international aviation have not been included, due to lack of data. This may represent a significant source of emissions for the Wellington City GHG Inventory and the Wellington Region as a whole.

7. Airtravel emissions on the up



But what does this all mean Adam?

This stuff is only a poke at statistical modelling. Who knows what the real picture is, there is only the one 2014 URS report. Whilst keen on geography, I am not a scientist, can we be sure this is anything like reality? It’s guesswork right?

You are not being shown accurate aviation data in any of the councils papers because there is no international flight emission data. I repeat, NO INTERNATIONAL flight emission data. We know in the last year international flights increased 11% alone.

Aviation is only shown for domestic travel, so all of the council papers above where it says aviation is ‘17.5% or 18% or 19% of total emissions,’ is total bullshit.

If you pull in what URS guesstimate it could be, ~305 thousand tonnes of CO² which puts aviation at 23% of total emissions using the council website figures.

In 2013 nearly a quarter of all CO² emissions in Wellington are flights in and out of the airport.

The next greenhouse gas report is due out next month, let’s see what it includes this time around and what the figures are and what the council puts out.

So whilst everyone is obsessed with the look-at-me-I’m-so-green, I-am-greener-than-you, bicycle PR sideshow, can we have a proper discussion about what the airport emissions actually look like please?