Greenhouse gas emissions are growing at a faster rate in the Bay of Plenty than anywhere else in the country, new statistics suggest.
Although the region's emissions equated to only 4.3 per cent of the national total in 2018, the rapid rise since 2007 is being described as "quite disturbing" and "just not good enough".
The 2007-18 data released last month marks the first time Stats NZ has released a regional breakdown of greenhouse gas emissions.
Overall emissions in the Bay of Plenty grew 11.9 per cent from 2007.
Canterbury had the second-largest increase at 11 per cent followed by Otago at 7 per cent.
Taranaki saw the biggest decrease of 11.3 per cent.
The data also shows that total household emissions in the Bay of Plenty rose 22 per cent to 2018, second only to Waikato's 24 per cent.
Stats NZ said the rise in household emissions was largely driven by growing populations and transport use.
These emissions and "increasing emissions from goods-producing industries, particularly the electricity, gas, water, and waste services industry" were what drove the region's overall emissions up.
Environmental-economic accounts manager Stephen Oakley said nationally "while some regions reduced their emissions, this was largely offset by increased emissions in other regions".
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"Overall, this resulted in a reduction of just over 1 per cent in New Zealand's total greenhouse gas emissions."
Clear the Air Mount Maunganui activist Emma Jones told the Bay of Plenty Times stricter controls were needed.
"It is obviously quite disturbing to see such an increase [in emissions] in our region."
In her opinion, increasing air pollution from traffic had been particularly noticeable in recent years.
"We have had a large population growth, so more cars, but also many more trucks on the road."
Jones hoped to see multimodal transport initiatives and more incentives to buy electric vehicles to reduce emissions in the Bay of Plenty.
The Bay of Plenty Regional Council's youngest elected member, Stacey Rose, said the region's emissions were "just not good enough".
He believed transport mode shifts should be a focus in the region as well as working with industries to reduce the use of toxic chemicals and carbon dioxide.
Rose said Māori knowledge was "essential" in the battle against climate change.
"In all honesty, I believe that mana whenua should be in the forefront of this kaupapa ... People need to understand that Papatūānuku, our nature, is under threat."
Bay of Plenty Regional Council environmental strategy manager Stephen Lamb said the Stats NZ data and the council's own reports would be used to inform the region's Climate Change Action Plan, currently out for consultation.
Massey University Professor Emeritus Ralph Sims, an expert in sustainable energy and climate mitigation, said New Zealand's greenhouse gas emissions per capita remained one of the highest in the world, at 16.2 tonnes per person in 2018.
"A major effort to reduce emissions in the next two to three decades is essential in every region in order to rapidly drive down our total emissions and meet our international commitment [the Paris Climate Agreement]."
He said this would require "strong leadership, robust policies, tough regulations and personal commitments by our team of five million to all play their part".
His colleague, Distinguished Professor Robert McLachlan from the School of Fundamental Sciences, described New Zealand's emissions as "stubbornly high".
"Reductions from the electricity sector have been offset by uncontrolled increases in cars and trucks."
Niwa atmosphere and ocean scientist Dr Sara Mikaloff-Fletcher said Stats NZ's aspiration to update the emissions data annually would "allow regional councils and community groups to not only plan effective action but track their progress".
"But an essential piece is still missing from the puzzle. These statistics do not yet include the carbon emitted or absorbed due to the way we care for our land, for example, cutting or planting trees, soil management on farms, urban green spaces and invasive pest eradication.
"Land management, particularly re-forestation, is a key strategy to slowing climate change for many regions."