New Zealand’s location in the strong prevailing southwesterly wind belt and its relatively small industrial economy and population means that it generally has good air quality. But this is not necessarily the case in the nation’s major urban centres. Indicators of air quality show that conditions in the main urban regions areas are generally poor. Legislation controls on the most important source of air pollutants, namely motor vehicles, remains weak. Fine airborne particles and carbon monoxide are the main pollutants. New Zealand’s total greenhouse gas emissions rose by almost 20% from 1990 to 2009. Emissions data show that New Zealand is not typical of developed nations in that almost half of total emissions in 2009 were produced by pastoral-land activities. There is an increasing dependence on fossil fuels, although electricity from hydro generation continues to dominate energy consumption. Decoupling indicators suggest that New Zealand’s economy is reducing its reliance on energy while sustaining growth. Food miles and carbon footprint indicators can be used to show that energy efficiency in the agricultural sector in New Zealand compares well against other producers.
Key Concepts and TermsAir pollution Carbon credits Carbon dioxide Carbon monoxide Chlorofluorocarbons Decoupling indicators Energy efficiency policies Energy policy Energy use Exceedances Fine airborne particles PM10 and PM2.5 Food miles Fossil fuels Global warming Greenhouse gases Halons • Kyoto protocol Lead Methane Motor vehicle emissions Oxides of nitrogen Ozone Renewable energy Sulphur dioxide Volatile organic compounds
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