Emissions produced by the energy sector can affect health
The burning of fossil fuels (such as oil, gas, and coal) produces harmful emissions of gases and particulate matter, negatively affecting air quality and health. Furthermore, these emissions contribute to climate change, which impacts public health in various ways . In 2018, the energy sector contributed 40.5% to New Zealand’s greenhouse gas emissions, mainly through transport activities .
New Zealand uses a variety of fuel types:
- Renewables, such as geothermal energy, biogas, wood, and liquid biofuels. Renewable fuels can also be used indirectly to produce electricity, ie via wind, hydro or solar power.
- Non-renewables: ie, fossil fuels like oil, gas and coal
- Electricity, which can be generated from renewable and non-renewable fuel types. In 2020, 81.1% of New Zealand’s electricity was generated from renewables .
The COVID-19 pandemic
In January 2020, the WHO declared a Public Health Emergency of International Concern over the outbreak of COVID-19. After the detection of the first COVID-19 case in New Zealand on February 28th, 2020, the New Zealand Government established the COVID-19 Alert System. New Zealand moved to Alert Level 4 (Lockdown) on March 23rd, 2020 and moved between levels for the remainder of the year. The introduction of the Alert System and the shift to ‘working from home’ has changed the consumption of energy: international and non-essential travel was drastically reduced, businesses in non-essential industrial sectors had to shut down, and children and adults were learning and working from home.
Information about the data
Total energy consumed, by fuel type and sector
Source: Ministry for Business, Innovation & Employment. Energy in New Zealand
Definition: Total energy (in petajoules, PJ) consumed in New Zealand, by sector (i.e agriculture, forestry and fishing; industrial; commercial and public services; domestic transport; residential) and by fuel type (i.e. oil, electricity, gas, renewables, coal). Energy consumed includes all energy used by final consumers. It does not include energy used for transformation, or non-energy use (use of fuels to produce non-energy products).
WHO. 2013. Review of evidence on health aspects of air pollution – REVIHAAP Project. Copenhagen: WHO Regional Office for Europe.
- Ministry of Business, Innovation & Employment. 2020. Energy in New Zealand 2020. URL: https://www.mbie.govt.nz/building-and-energy/energy-and-natural-resources/energy-statistics-and-modelling/ (accessed 30 June 2021).
Ministry for the Environment. 2021. New Zealand’s Greenhouse Gas Inventory 1990—2019. Wellington: Ministry for the Environment. URL: https://environment.govt.nz/publications/new-zealands-greenhouse-gas-inventory-1990-2019/ (accessed January 2022).