Here’s how to cut your transport emissions and improve your carbon footprint

There are many alternatives to fossil fuelled transport.

There are many alternatives to fossil fuelled transport.

Major reductions in transport are critical to achieving New Zealand’s commitment of being carbon neutral by 2050 – with 42 per cent of our carbon dioxide emissions attributed to vehicles. 

For most New Zealanders, fossil-fuelled vehicles are the biggest source of our individual emissions, with  nearly 70 per cent of all transport CO2 emissions coming from cars, SUVs, utes, vans and light trucks. 

Statistics show 84,000 tonnes of carbon emissions each year could be avoided if just one-fifth of those who usually travel to work by car worked at home at least one day a week. 

But with more New Zealanders returning to their workplaces in recent weeks – for those of us ready to reduce our energy use and make more climate-friendly transport choices, what are our options?

Become a one car household 

For a start, it could be time to ditch that second car. New Zealand has one of the highest rates of car ownership in the world. In 2020 there were about four million registered light vehicles in New Zealand and 97 percent of those were petrol or diesel-powered – adding significantly to our carbon emissions. 

A plug in electric car is a great way to make savings and reduce your carbon footprint.


A plug in electric car is a great way to make savings and reduce your carbon footprint.

Plug-in to a new way of thinking 

For an increasing number of New Zealanders, especially those with specific commuter or transport needs, “going electric” is helping them reduce transport emissions. 

Latest figures from EECA (the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority) showed 44 per cent of New Zealanders are likely to consider an electric or plug-in electric vehicle as their next purchase. 

New rebates available to anyone purchasing a Electric Vehicle (EV) or plug-in hybrid EV – up to $8,625 for new vehicles and up to $3,450 for used, is also something to consider when weighing your options. 

But new cost savings are not the only reason New Zealanders are switching. Low-emission vehicles are proven to be cleaner, quieter, and cheaper to run. They’re also proving convenient – given you can charge your vehicle at home, and now for longer trips there are public chargers nearly every 75 km on most of the state highway network. 

Hybrid cars and electric vehicles are great ways to get around while reducing your carbon footprint.


Hybrid cars and electric vehicles are great ways to get around while reducing your carbon footprint.

Choosing more active transport options 

A high-impact way to reduce individual carbon footprints for many New Zealanders is to choose alternatives to driving that work for your lifestyle such as public transport. Right now, it’s also more achievable, particularly for those in urban centres with access to public transport options. Public transport fares are currently half price and major cities have increased bus and train routes. 

EECA research shows that 55 percent of people would like to walk or cycle more and around two-thirds of our vehicle trips are less than 6 km – a manageable distance by bike or e-bike. Additionally, cycling is getting easier, safer and more accessible. According to Waka Kotahi, there are now about 3400 km of cycleways across Aotearoa. 

Hybrid vehicles can be a stepping stone 

More than 5000 used and new hybrid vehicles have been registered in New Zealand since 2000. 

A mix of petrol and electricity (either plugged-in or self-generated) form hybrid engines. They are more fuel-efficient than a comparable petrol car and produce fewer carbon emissions. Many are also eligible for the Clean Car Discount.

Explore all your transport options at


Explore all your transport options at

Making a start 

Researching is a good first step. Explore all your transport options at

For information on the cost comparisons between zero and low-emission cars, and regular vehicles, the Vehicle Total Cost of Ownership calculator  will help you work out how much money and emissions you will save by buying and running an EV, compared to a petrol or diesel vehicle.

You can calculate your own carbon footprint by completing a survey. 

A new website by Drive Electric – a not-for-profit group supporting the uptake of e-mobility – enables users to search and compare all new EVs on the market. For anyone interested in a new or used electric vehicle, whether for home or business, the site is a useful place to visit to support decision-making.

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