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Energy statistics in New Zealand: have energy accounts a useful role to play?

Wright, Janice
Baines, James
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In 1990 the Centre for Resource Management published an information paper titled "Natural resource accounting - an overview from a New Zealand perspective with special reference to the Norwegian experience ". One of the conclusions of that publication was that Norwegian-style energy accounts could be both useful and reasonably easily compiled in this country. In Norway, the energy resource accounts have been far more widely used than the accounts for other resources like fish, forests and metals. They have also provided an essential information base for devising national strategies for attaining goals for energy-related air pollutants like the sulphur oxides and carbon dioxide. It would be misguided to work on energy accounts for New Zealand without tackling the wider question of energy statistics. Energy accounts are a subset of energy statistics; they are balance sheets where links between energy data and economic data are formalised. There are other good reasons for paying some attention to energy statistics at present. A growing concern exists that in this country's hasty retreat from the excesses of the "Think Big" era, we may have thrown the baby out with the bathwater - the bathwater being heavy-handed planning and the baby being information. Increasingly, staff of the Ministry for the Environment and other agencies concerned for the management of New Zealand's natural resources need information about energy. This project was begun with two major aims. The first was to analyse existing energy statistics as a basis for a comprehensive framework. The second was to test the feasibility of preparing Norwegian-style energy accounts for New Zealand. In addressing the second aim, in particular, an extensive amount of information has been gathered; each chapter concludes with a summary of key points that is designed to reduce confusion. Finally, we would like to add two caveats. Firstly, the energy accounts in this report have been produced for demonstration purposes; they should not be cited in a cavalier fashion. Secondly, the report is aimed at experts, not at the general reader.
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