The state of air quality in New Zealand: Commentary by the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment on the '2014 Air Domain Report'

05 March 2015

Several months ago, a report on air quality, the 2014 Air Domain Report, was released by the Secretary for the Environment and the Government Statistician. It is the first of what is expected to be a series of regular reports on the state of New Zealand’s environment. In this new reporting system, I (and those who succeed me as Commissioner) have the role of preparing independent commentaries on the reports. This is the first such commentary. 

In my commentary I have assessed the 2014 Air Domain Report with a view to identifying ways that future environmental reports can be improved. I have also taken a close look at the most significant air pollutant – particulate matter – and examined our national ambient air quality standard. The report ends with recommendations to the Government. 

Overall, air quality in New Zealand is a good news story. One of the graphs in this report shows a 75% reduction in airborne particles in Auckland over the last fifty years. Similar progress has been made in some other towns and cities across New Zealand. I am glad that Christchurch is no longer the smoggy city of my childhood.

 

Correction: the WHO guideline on Figure 3.6 should be 25 µg/m3. The first printed copies showed the guideline at 30 µg/m3, however this has been corrected in the PDF available on this website and in later printed versions.

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This lecture was given at Lincoln University on the evening of the 12th of March 2015, one week following the release of the Commissioner's Commentary on the 2014 Air Domain Report.