Christchurch City Council is responding to climate change by setting targets for reduced emissions. Climate change is happening now and we’re already feeling the effects around the world and in Aotearoa New Zealand, so meeting these targets is essential – for Christchurch, for everyone, for good.

The aim is to halve Christchurch’s emissions by 2030 and become carbon zero by 2045.

How: By looking at our living and transport options. There’s lots we can all do to help reach our targets and by working together we’ll get there.

Why: In lowering our emissions we’re joining worldwide commitments to help slow down global warming and avoid the worst impacts of climate change.

The New Zealand Government has passed the Climate Change Response (Zero Carbon) Amendment Act for 2050, providing a framework for New Zealand to develop and implement clear and robust climate change policies, with an emissions reduction plan underway.

For Christchurch: what our way to carbon zero looks like

The focus on living and road transport options involves everyone. Road transport using petrol and diesel is the single biggest source of our emissions, and living and road transport issues go hand in hand. By looking at where and how we live, and the ways we get around, we can reduce our emissions and meet our targets.

For everyone

Better ways every day from everyone will make all the difference. Whether it’s small steps or big thinking and long-term changes, choosing ways that cut our emissions is our way to carbon zero.

For good

The Council is responding to changes happening now and preparing for change in the future. A lot of work has already been done to support better, low-emission ways of living and getting around, with more to come.

Here’s what’s been done and what’s underway:

On-road petrol and diesel transport accounts for 36% of Christchurch’s total emissions. Plenty of work has already been done to make it way easier, safer and healthier for us all to choose better, low-emission ways to get around, and more ways are in the works. 

  • Over 60km of cycleways, plus a network of shared paths and cycle lanes throughout the city for fast, fun, simple and safe travel on foot, by bike or scooter – great for health and fitness and for saving money.
  • Electric vehicle charging stations at many Council and business sites throughout the city and Banks Peninsula support easy travel around the district.
  • Residents and businesses have access to a car-sharing fleet of zero-exhaust-emission vehicles from Zilch at locations throughout the city. The Council has greatly reduced its vehicle fleet and is using the Zilch car-sharing vehicles.
  • Improved bus shelters, dedicated bus lanes and bus lounges make it more convenient and comfortable to travel and take away the hassle of driving and parking.
  • Bike skills training in schools. Around 3000 children learn to bike safely using this programme every year. Bike skills courses are also available for adults who want to gain bike confidence and use the cycle network. 
  • A comprehensive travel planning programme for schools and central city businesses is available to support and encourage low-emission travel options. 

Since 2012, more than 1150 tonnes of emissions a year have already been reduced by converting Christchurch’s streetlights to LED. This is also saving ratepayers more than $1.5 million in electricity and maintenance costs. There are nearly 44,000 streetlights in the entire network and completion is on track for 2024.

Christchurch’s red, yellow and green bin kerbside collection service allows us to reduce waste going to landfill, reducing the emissions our landfill produces.  As well as being better for the environment this saves ratepayers money. Sorting items into the right bins also means that recyclable items get new purpose and organics can be turned into compost.

Reaching our targets will be a challenge and we’ll need to be carbon offsetting to help meet them, along with transitioning to low-emission options and becoming a more sustainable city.

Measuring and reducing greenhouse gas emissions is the first and most important part of managing our carbon footprints. Where we can’t avoid producing emissions, carbon offsetting allows us to compensate by investing in emissions reductions elsewhere.

Tree-planting or clean energy projects can have a proven and measurable reduction in emissions. Investments are often made to support developing nations transition more quickly to a clean energy based economy. They can support biodiversity goals and offer valuable social benefits to groups involved in the projects.

Parakiore Recreation and Sport Centre will be the first of its kind in New Zealand to use the central city’s wastewater system to provide all of the facility’s heating.

About 30 per cent of all household energy is used to generate hot water, and every day this heat is sent into the wastewater network. This makes wastewater an enormous container of thermal energy and an untapped resource for cities.

This thermal energy map(external link)(external link) that Smart Alliances created in 2018 shows the large amount of potential heat that’s available through Christchurch’s larger wastewater pipes in the network.

The technology for Parakiore will take wastewater from the pipes beneath the roads and screen out the solids. The wastewater will then flow through a heat exchanger before both the water and solids are returned to the network.

The heat taken from the sewerage is then transferred to another flow loop that’s designed to extract up to 3,500-kilowatts of energy – that’s enough energy to power 35,000 100-watt lightbulbs.

The system has been designed so that it’s impossible for the wastewater to contact the pool water that it will heat.

Crown agency Ōtākaro Ltd is overseeing the delivery of the Parakiore Recreation and Sport Centre. Construction is expected to be completed around the middle of 2023.

For more information and the latest updates on the construction of Parakiore, visit link)

 We welcome proposals for inspired and innovative ways to reduce emissions or ways to grow our resilience to the impacts of climate change. If you, your school or business have a great idea for a sustainability project you could get support from the Sustainability Fund.

Applications can be sent in at any time of the year. Funding for the next round opens in September 2022. Get thinking and find out more about the Sustainability Fund(external link).