Greenhouse Gas Emissions in New Zealand: A Preliminary Consumption-Based Analysis

Motu Working Paper 14-05

34 Pages Posted: 2 May 2014

See all articles by Carl Romanos

Carl Romanos

Stanford University

Suzi Kerr

Motu Economic and Public Policy Research Trust

Campbell Will

University of Otago

Date Written: April 30, 2014


New Zealand’s per capita greenhouse gas emissions are usually calculated by taking total emissions as reported under the Kyoto Protocol or the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and simply dividing by population. However this focuses on emissions associated with production within New Zealand. From the point of view of individuals, these are not the emissions they control, and hence can mitigate. Individuals can calculate their “carbon footprint” but tools to do this typically focus on a few categories of emissions (mostly electricity, direct fuel use and waste) and emissions footprints are not available for a wide range of households so cannot be used for comparative analysis. This paper explores how the carbon emissions related to the consumption categories of households in New Zealand vary with household characteristics. We use product consumption data from the 2007 Household Economic Survey. Consumption within each category is linked to a carbon intensity multiplier (tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent per dollar of consumption) which is derived from: the official 2007 input-output table of 106 industries produced by Statistics New Zealand; energy data on carbon dioxide per petajoule of fuel in each industry from the Energy Data File; and the Energy Greenhouse Gas Emissions Report both provided by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment. Previous literature has used similar methods to calculate the incidence of a carbon tax (e.g. Creedy and Sleeman [2006]). This paper uses these methods in order to study which sectors of household expenditure offer the greatest opportunities for mitigation and how these opportunities vary with household characteristics such as income decile, region and household composition.

Keywords: Climate change, emissions, consumption, household emissions

JEL Classification: D12, D62, Q41, Q01, Q54

Suggested Citation

Romanos, Carl and Kerr, Suzi and Will, Campbell, Greenhouse Gas Emissions in New Zealand: A Preliminary Consumption-Based Analysis (April 30, 2014). Motu Working Paper 14-05. Available at SSRN: or

Carl Romanos

Stanford University ( email )

Stanford, CA 94305
United States

Suzi Kerr (Contact Author)

Motu Economic and Public Policy Research Trust ( email )

Level 1, 93 Cuba Street
P.O. Box 24390
Wellington, 6142
New Zealand
+64 4 383 4250 (Phone)
+64 4 383 4270 (Fax)

Campbell Will

University of Otago ( email )

P.O. Box 56
Dunedin, Otago 9010
New Zealand

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