Greenhouse Gas (GHG) Footprinting Strategy

What is Greenhouse Gas footprinting?

Greenhouse gas footprinting, also referred to as carbon footprinting, determines the total volume of greenhouse gases (GHG) emitted, in carbon equivalents, across the entire life-cycle of a product or service.

For example: It could be used to determine the volume of carbon emitted by one kilo of lamb farmed and packaged in New Zealand, transported to the United Kingdom, sold and consumed, in the month of July.

The outcome is expressed in carbon dioxide equivalents (CO2 – e). It includes all the inputs and outputs of GHGs in the production, supply, use and disposal of a product.

Why the focus on footprints?

In some markets, consumers and retailers have increasing expectations that products they find on their store shelves have sustainability credentials that can be verified such as whether a product is organically farmed or how much carbon was used to produce the product.

Since early 2008, there has been growing international interest in GHG footprinting. Governments, retailers, consumers, supply chain partners and NGOs are all becoming increasingly involved.

The benefits of Greenhouse Gas footprinting include:

  • improving relationships with suppliers and customers;
  • maintaining and/or enhancing market access;
  • developing a better understanding of the environmental impacts, risks and liabilities associated with a product, process or service;
  • identifying key areas for improvement and gains in efficiency;
  • identifying areas where emissions can be reduced; and
  • demonstrating a commitment to tackling climate change.

National activity

Establishing GHG footprints for the primary sector

The development of sector-specific approaches to GHG footprinting is a key part of the Strategy.

These projects provide a standardised way for measuring and managing GHG emissions across the life-cycle of a product. The aim is to help sectors measure, manage and mitigate GHG emissions across the supply chain.

Projects undertaken represent over 80% of New Zealand’s primary sector exports.

Project About the project
Dairy A project report that calculates greenhouse gas footprints of exported dairy products.
Forestry A project report that calculates the greenhouse gas footprint for log production from New Zealand's radiata pine plantation forests.
Forestry sector guidance information

Six publications are available.

Methodologies for Carbon Footprinting for the Forest Sector

Guidelines for Greenhouse Gas Footprinting for: Life Cycle Assessment: Adopting and adapting overseas LCA data and methodologies for building materials in New Zealand
These guidance documents will help businesses, consultants and researchers work out greenhouse gas footprints for forestry and wood products.
Kiwifruit A project report that calculates the greenhouse gas footprint of exported kiwifruit.
Summerfruit GHG footprint
This project is currently under way.
Pipfruit A project report that calculates the greenhouse gas footprint of exported apples.
These guidelines help wineries calculate the greenhouse gas footprints of their products.
Arable GHG footprint

This research represents the first detailed look at the GHG emissions from arable crop production in New Zealand. The reports present a greenhouse gas (GHG) life cycle assessment (LCA) of one tonne of arable product to the farm gate in New Zealand. Sector-specific methodologies and guidance for the measurement of on-farm GHG emissions were developed for arable production.
Fertilisers GHG footprint
A project report on the energy use and greenhouse gas emissions of a range of fertilisers commonly used in New Zealand.
Strong Wool GHG footprint
This project is currently under way.
Berry-fruit GHG footprint
This project is currently under way.
A project report that calculates the greenhouse gas footprint of exported lamb.
Onions GHG footprint This project is currently under way.
Venison GHG footprint This project is currently under way.
Beef/Mutton GHG footprint This project is currently under way.
Zespri – water footprint This project is currently under way.
Consumer Preferences and Expectations This project is currently under way.
Timber Products in Landfills This report synthesises the research for Three waste timber products in an average communal landfill in NZ and applies the information to the following timber products: untreated timber, timber treated with copper chrome arsenate (CCA), and laminated veneer lumber (LVL).
Guidelines for landfill disposal

Spreadsheet to help calculate landfill emissions
This guidance information on the emissions of landfill contents are used as part of calculating the greenhouse gas footprint of any product.
On-farm GHG Footprint Variability and Tech-Transfer This project is currently under way.

Professorship in Life-Cycle Management in Agriculture and Forestry

In April 2009, to build New Zealand LCA capabilities, Massey University was announced as the successful host of the Professorship and an associated New Zealand Centre for Life-Cycle Management. The Centre operates in conjunction with leading Crown Research Institutes: AgResearch, Landcare New Zealand, Plant and Food, and Scion.

Massey Life Cycle Management Centre

International engagement and standards

The Strategy supports co-ordinated technical comments on the following standard setting bodies for GHG footprinting.  

For more information visit the website of the Greenhouse Gas Protocol Initiative


Last Updated: 10 November 2011

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