Outcome 4: Value is sustainably derived from the natural environment

Aotearoa New Zealand’s natural environment is important to the country’s sense of identity and has great cultural and recreational significance. It also supports much economic activity.

Kaitiakitanga (guardianship) and kaihāpai (being a protector) are important to the way MBIE considers its responsibilities, particularly around sustainability.

In February 2022, the Southland Just Transition Work Plan was launched after a comprehensive planning process with the region. This plan aims to help Southland build its economic, environmental and social resilience through and beyond the planned closure of the New Zealand Aluminium Smelter in December 2024. Reflecting the importance of regional leadership, the just transition process is guided by the Southland Enduring Oversight Group, made up of representatives from central and local government, iwi, business, unions and the primary, community and education sectors.

The work plan sets out seven priority work streams: clean energy, aquaculture, land use, business transitions, worker transitions, long-term planning and community capability building. Following the work plan’s release during the year, MBIE worked with regional partners to identify priority projects and options for their delivery.

Next year, the focus will be on delivering these projects and supporting regional leadership in the process.

To reduce emissions in the public sector, we collaborated with other agencies on the Carbon Neutral Government Programme. This requires agencies to measure and report on their emissions, set emissions reduction targets and reduce emissions by phasing out coal-fired boilers, optimising fleet size, transitioning to electric vehicles, and using an approved sustainable building rating system for new government owned non- residential buildings. (See page 54 for MBIE’s own sustainability reporting.)

On behalf of the Crown, we are also responsible for the decommissioning of the Tui oilfield after Tamarind Taranaki Ltd went into liquidation and receivership. A dedicated team is overseeing the decommissioning, which has involved demobilising a floating production storage and offloading vessel, a process completed in May 2021.

During 2021/22, we awarded contracts for the subsequent phases – removing all subsea infrastructure and plugging and abandoning the oilfield’s eight wells. By the end of June 2022, the subsea infrastructure was largely completed. By then, flowlines, tubing and related material weighing 2,400 tonnes and totalling 39 kilometres in length had been recovered, along with 400 tonnes of other structures.

As highlighted earlier, under the Year in Review, we were also involved in initiatives focused on climate change and the environment, namely:

  • developing a framework of policies, strategies and actions to decarbonise the economy while also making it more productive, sustainable and inclusive through the Emissions Reduction Plan (released in May 2022)
  • developing a whole-of-government approach to responding to climate change, through the National Adaptation Plan (opened for consultation in April 2022)
  • helping make sure the effects of climate change on businesses and how they will manage climate-related risks and opportunities are routinely considered, through development of the Financial Sector (Climate- related Disclosures and Other Matters) Amendment Act 2021
  • reducing greenhouse gas emissions in the construction sector and ensuring buildings can cope with the effects of climate change through the Building for Climate Change programme launched in 2020
  • helping people enjoy healthier homes that rely on less energy, through changes to the Building Code.
Man walking through an orchard of young trees at sunset

STORY: Affordable energy for low-income households

In March 2022, approximately $8 million was allocated to trial renewable energy projects on Māori housing. This was the third round of funding from a broader $28 million fund established in 2020.

Projects funded so far include installing solar panels on marae to support nearby flats and using geothermal energy to heat homes – all of which will reduce reliance on normal electricity supplies and decrease bills. One project also involved swapping a diesel generator for solar panels on Mayor Island (reserve) to power the island’s homes and cabins where the permanent kaitiaki (stewards) live.

A goal is to help make energy more affordable for low-income households, while encouraging greater use of heating for better health and wellbeing. Projects also enhance energy independence and resilience, lower emissions, support Māori energy installation businesses, and upskill those within the iwi and rohe to help manage the projects.

Early reports from completed projects show household energy bills have reduced significantly, especially over summer, with some expecting solar panels to cut energy bills by $1,000 a year. The projects are making a big difference to people’s lives and livelihoods.

For example, after Te Arawa Whānau Ora Charitable Trust installed solar panels on a house for a couple caring for nine children, the couple’s monthly power bill decreased from $300 (most recent, at the time of installation) to just under $150 (lowest since installation). In addition to this, a $20 credit for power was sold back to the grid.

Others have said: “Since we had it, it’s saved about $120 a month...I’d probably be really struggling if the solar panels hadn’t been put up. So for that last 2–4 months life’s been great.” “It gives a bit more dollar to put more food on the table, more petrol in the car. This has been a godsend.”

How we measure outcome four

Performance measure

Percentage of total primary energy supply (TPES) coming from renewables

4.1 Increase sustainability of Aotearoa New Zealand’s energy system


Percentage of total primary energy supply (TPES) coming from renewables


The percentage of TPES from renewable energy sources (including hydro, wind, geothermal, solar, woody biomass, biogas and liquid biofuels) was 41% in 2021, slightly up compared to 40% in 2020. This value has followed an increasing trend over the last two decades and remained relatively stable in recent years.

Performance measure Indicator Trend Commentary
4.2 Reduce net greenhouse gas emissions (using levers that MBIE has available) Net greenhouse gas emissions[14] Current
Steady - dash inside circle

Decrease - down arrow in circle
Aotearoa's net greenhouse gas emissions (including those from land use, land-use change and the forestry sector) was 55.5mt carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2-e) in 2020*. This has decreased since a peak in 2019 (58.6mt), and it is now similar to 2018 (55.8mt). The 2020 5-year average of 55.4mt was very similar to the 2019 5-year average of 55.1mt.
4.3 Increase efficiency of Aotearoa New Zealand’s energy system Energy intensity (based on mega joules per dollar of GDP in real 2009/10 prices) Current
Decrease - down arrow in circle

Decrease - down arrow in circle
Energy intensity was 2.1 mega joules used per dollar of GDP (in real 2009/10 prices) in the year to March 2021, continuing a long downward trend. Since 2012, energy intensity has reduced by 0.45 mega joules used per dollar of GDP.

*At the time of writing, this was the most recent period for which data is available.

[14] There is a level of inherent uncertainty in reporting greenhouse gas emissions. The uncertainty for New Zealand’s inventory, including emissions and removals from the Land Use and Land-Use Change and Forestry sector, in 2020 is ±26.9 per cent. There has been a 10.0 per cent decrease in uncertainty between 2019 and 2020. The scientific knowledge and methodologies to determine emissions factors and the processes to calculate or estimate quantities of GHG sources are still evolving, as are GHG reporting and assurance standards. For more information on New Zealand GHG emissions, including inventory uncertainties, the methodology of data collection and analysis, and assumptions used in the calculation, refer to the source of information for this measure, the Ministry for the Environment – New Zealand’s Greenhouse Gas Inventory.