Together we can reduce our emissions and prepare for the opportunities and challenges presented by climate change.

Lyttelton harbour

Climate change programme

Climate change presents significant opportunities and challenges for communities and businesses here and around the world. The Council has established a climate change programme to better respond to local issues and opportunities.  

As part of this programme, Council is currently developing a climate change strategy for the district to provide a framework for local action on climate change.

Council has now set a target for the district of having net zero greenhouse emissions (excluding methane) by 2045 - five years ahead of Government’s proposed Climate Change Response (Zero Carbon) Amendment Act(external link)You can read about that decision on Newsline(external link).

In setting these targets, we listened to the feedback we received as part of our consultation on the emissions targets(external link). We also ran a public survey on climate change and the results are now provided below.

The Council conducted a public survey on climate change in May 2019. This survey was completed by 2724 people and the key findings were:

  • Most people surveyed (77%) thought climate change was an extremely important issue.
  • People under 24 years old were the most likely to think climate change was important (81%). 
  • People over the age of 50 were less likely to see climate change as important, although the level of concern was still high at 70%.
  • Women were more likely than men to see climate change as an important issue (81% for women compared to 71% for men).
  • Most people surveyed (84%) thought climate change would have a big impact on them.
  • Most people (79%) agreed that human actions are causing accelerated climate change.
  • When considering how to set greenhouse gas emission targets for Christchurch, most people (84%) thought our targets should be based on robust science and over half (57%) thought they should be achievable and realistic based on planned actions. 20% of those surveyed thought our targets should align with New Zealand Government targets and 5% thought Christchurch targets should reflect our minimum legal obligations.
  • People thought everyone should be doing more to address climate change. Most people (77%) felt that New Zealand businesses were not doing enough to address climate change and over half felt that Central Government (68%) and Christchurch City Council (61%) were not doing enough.
  • Nearly one-third of those surveyed (30%) thought their own household was not doing enough to address climate change.
  • More than half of the people surveyed (65%) felt that their personal actions made a difference to reduce climate change.
  • Actions most commonly taken by people to address climate change were:
    • reducing waste and recycling (93%)
    • saving energy at home (87%)
    • eating less meat (75%)
    • reducing car use (72%)
    • choosing locally made or eco-friendly products (70%)
    • conserving water at home (68%)
  • 11% of people reported to be generating renewable energy at home and 16% said they use an electric or hybrid car or taxi in Christchurch.

Christchurch City Council has a history of taking climate action.

These actions provide valuable opportunities to share, learn and collaborate with other organisations and communities.

They also demonstrate the importance and power of collective action.


In 2008 the Council established and began to implement the Sustainable Energy Strategy 2008 which will be revised in 2019.


In 2010 the Council established and began to implement the Climate Smart Strategy 2010 which will be revised in 2019.


In 2011 the Council crafted and was a founding signatory of the Local Government New Zealand Climate Change Declaration(external link) that has now been signed by 54 Mayors and Regional Council Chairs throughout New Zealand.

This outlines key principles and actions needed for addressing climate change.


In 2015 the Council established and began to implement the Christchurch Energy Action Plan 2015 which will be revised in 2019.


In 2016 New Zealand joined 196 other nations when it signed the Paris Accord. This aims to limit planetary warming to no more than 2 degrees to avoid the worst impacts of climate change for ourselves and future generations.

To achieve this goal, all communities and businesses need to rapidly transition to a low carbon economy reducing global emissions by more than 80% by 2050. This represents a significant challenge and opportunity for innovation, the green economy and for Christchurch.

Taking climate action will result in widespread benefits for our communities.

For example, it will bring about new jobs and business opportunities required to support a sustainable and future-proofed economy under new climatic conditions. An economy that supports strong connected communities where there are good levels of health and wellbeing, a reduction in waste and pollution, and a focus in improving our natural environment. 

In short, it will help make Christchurch an even better place to live for generations to come.


Christchurch joined 7,400 other cities in 2017 when it signed the Global Covenant of Mayors for Climate and Energy(external link) which assists cities to manage emissions and to prepare for a changing climate.

Christchurch was also one of the first Rockefeller 100 Resilience Cities(external link) helping to prepare for our key resilience challenges. 

Also, in 2017 the Council set itself the target to be net carbon neutral by 2030(external link).


In February 2018, Christchurch City Council partnered with Yoogo to launch a 100% battery electric car sharing scheme for businesses and the public helping to change the way we travel and reducing carbon emissions.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)(external link) was hosted in Christchurch in March 2018 with a range public engagement events to learn about climate change from specialists from around the world.

Also, by the end of 2018 Christchurch City Council had adopted a new procurement policy encouraging suppliers to minimise waste, energy and greenhouse gases.

New Zealand emissions

New Zealand accounts for a fraction of the world's total greenhouse gas emissions, about 0.17%. 

However, on a per capita basis we have a large footprint, emitting 18 tonnes of greenhouse gasses per person, every year. This makes New Zealand one of the highest per capita emitters in the world.

Find out more about New Zealand’s carbon footprint at the Ministry for the Environment(external link)

Christchurch District emissions

In 2017 Christchurch emitted 2,485,335 tonnes of greenhouse gases (excluding removals from growing trees) which equates to 6.6 tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalents per person. This is much lower than national emissions because Christchurch District has fewer agricultural emissions.

This level of emissions is below recent per capita estimates for Dunedin and Auckland, but above the per capita estimates for Tauranga and Wellington.

Pie chart of emissions

Sector Gross emissions contribution
Transportation 53% 
Stationary Energy 23% 
Agriculture 10% 
Waste 9% 
IPPU (Industry) 5% 

Christchurch community carbon footprint report

In 2016/17 Council commissioned AECOM New Zealand Limited to develop a community carbon footprint for the Christchurch District.

The report gives a detailed overview of Christchurch’s emission profile and is useful when looking at ways to mitigate climate change.

Read the full report. [PDF, 1.3 MB] 

Christchurch City Council emissions

In 2017 the Council set the target of being carbon neutral (net zero greenhouse gas emissions) as an organisation by 2030. Council also joined the CEMARS certification programme to help measure and manage its emissions over time.

Christchurch can expect many social, economic and environmental impacts resulting from our changing climate.  We must anticipate and prepare for these unavoidable changes, while significantly reducing global emissions to minimise future changes and risks.  

Following guidance from Central Government and reporting from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, Canterbury can expect to have more intense weather events in the future and needs to make plans for a changing climate. 

The Council is working with the community to better understand these changes and to establish ways to proactively respond to these risks.

Learn more about the local impacts of climate change:

Get involved

We are stronger together and all must play our part to harness the opportunities and overcome the challenges of climate change. There are many ways to reduce your environmental footprint and grow resilience.

Find out what actions contribute the most to your emissions and see how low you can get them.

There are many carbon calculators online, but Carbon Zero(external link) have a simple one based on NZ data.

Let businesses, political leaders, friends and family know your views and encourage them to take action on climate change.

Understanding how to engage in Council decisions is a good way to start.

Walking, cycling, scootering, busing or car pooling is the best way to get around and can make you feel great. 

Christchurch has new cycle ways, a new bus exchange and lime scooters to make trips easy and fun.

Saving energy saves money and can help make a healthy home. Free home energy advice is available from:

Reducing rubbish is simple and is something that can involve the whole family. 

Find out more about the kerbside collection service or buy pre-loved items from second hand stores and the Eco-Shop(external link).  

Enjoy delicious fresh produce by growing your own food at home or buying from local markets.

Even a few vegetarian meals each week can dramatically lower your household footprint.

New Zealand has many natural hazards that we need to be aware of and emergencies can happen anywhere, any time.

Understanding the different risks and making a plan will help you to get ready and get through(external link).

Neighbours are often your first line of defence should an emergency occur and meeting them can be a piece of cake or a street party.

The Council provides support throughout summer for neighbourhood gatherings(external link).

Christchurch offers future living skills courses(external link) that cover a wide range of sustainable household topics. They provide a practical and fun way to learn with others about reducing your footprint and supporting resilience. 

Council also offers the Future Proof: Climate Change - Kaitiakitanga learning through action programme for schools. This free environmental programme provides relevant and authentic learning experiences through hands-on activities.