Carbon Methodology

We have used a consumption-based approach to calculate emissions that are embodied in final products and services. This allows the impact of what we consume to be captured including the raw materials, manufacturing, distribution, retail and disposal, and means we can account for the emissions produced by activities that take place inside and outside of New Zealand. It combines information on energy use by industry, energy emissions and process emissions, along with the total requirements data from input–output tables.

FutureFit calculates the tonnes of carbon represented in your personal carbon footprint by using a mix of New Zealand-based emission and household spending data, along with the personal information you enter, such as household size, income, lifestyle and activities.

This approach allows us to see a more direct relationship between consumer choices and the resulting estimated emissions (than production-based emission calculations); which is useful in helping people to make informed choices. Building on this, the FutureFit model allows you to enter detailed information about how you use or consume various products and services to get a personalised overview of how much carbon you are emitting, and from which of your activities it is from.

In FutureFit your personal carbon footprint starts at the New Zealand average (it doesn’t start at 0), then is tailored to you - it increases or decreases as you answer questions about your lifestyle. Completing the Next Level questions will give you the most accurate footprint result. Your carbon footprint at the start, as well as your current footprint will show on your dashboard. As you complete FutureFit actions each week your footprint will reduce.

In New Zealand, driving a petrol car, taking flights and diets high in red meat are the most common lifestyle choices that emit high levels of carbon. Another significant factor is the carbon associated with the things we spend money on. New clothes and shoes, home décor, sports equipment, electronic devices, toys, batches and home renovations are some examples. Typically people who earn more tend to spend and consume more – leading to higher carbon footprints.

The carbon methodology and model underpinning FutureFit is primarily based on work conducted by the Motu Economic and Public Policy Research, which has been adapted for FutureFit.

Motu’s methodology uses Statistics New Zealand’s input–output tables and New Zealand emission factors, together with the New Zealand Household Economic Survey to estimate the emissions associated with each household’s consumption across a range of products and services. FutureFit uses your household income to make assumptions about your spending behaviour, based on what we know from the Household Economic Survey. This allows us to limit the amount of questions we have to ask, and focus on asking about the categories that have the biggest impact. Don't worry, your income isn't reported on in any way. It's just used in the calculations!

The FutureFit team are responsible for the emission calculations used in this tool. The latest update to the tool was September, 2023 when the majority of emission factors were updated, wherever a new source or value was available.

We would like to extend a big thank you to Paul Young, Senior Analyst, Climate Directorate, Ministry for the Environment; and Luitgard Schwendenmann, Associate Professor, Auckland University, for their tireless work and commitment to building the robust, flexible and dynamic model that underpins this web application. We would also like to acknowledge the support provided by Corey Allan during his time at Motu Economic and Public Policy and Research. Finally, we extend our thanks to Abley Limited for their work updating the model and finding the latest emission factors.