Terms used in the ETS

A glossary of terms used in the ETS, and for the New Zealand Emissions Trading Register. ​ ​

Account Plus

An account is used to hold and trade units within the ETS. An account may be held by a variety of entities (e.g. individuals, companies, trusts, etc.) for the purposes of receiving entitlements from the Government, surrendering emission units to meet an obligation under the ETS, or to facilitate the private trading of emission units. 

This was known as a 'Holding Account' in the NZEUR.

Account Holder Plus

This is the name given to the owner of an account, or several accounts. It may be one person, several people, or a business, trust, or other entity. The Account Holder is legally responsible for any accounts it holds.

Account Holders may or may not be online users of the Register. They can choose to do everything themselves, or they can appoint other people to carry out some or all of their duties in the Register.

Account Operator Plus

An Account Operator manages an account and carries out transactions online. They can view the Account Holder details and their accounts, transfer units out of the accounts, and receive communications.

Account Operators must be appointed by Account Holders. Account Operators can either be a full Account operator (i.e. can both prepare and approve transactions) or the role can be split, so that one Account Operator can prepare transactions, which must then be approved by a different Account Operator. If using split roles you must have at least one preparer and one approver, or at least two approvers (approvers can both prepare and approve transactions, but cannot approve their own work).

The equivalent role in the NZEUR was a 'Primary Representative'.

Allocation Plus

An allocation is given to a business that has eligible industrial activities which are considered emissions-intensive and trade-exposed.

Carbon unit/emission unit Plus

This is a generic term for units used by emissions trading schemes around the world, including New Zealand Units (NZUs), or Kyoto Units. A carbon unit is generally equivalent to one metric tonne of carbon dioxide emissions.

Since 1 June 2015, only NZUs, NZ AAUs, and 2nd Commitment Period CERs can be used to meet surrender obligations in the ETS.

Emissions Plus

The release of greenhouse gases and/or their precursors into the atmosphere over a specified area and period of time. In relation to forestry, the release of carbon dioxide-equivalent emissions of greenhouse gases from the activity.

ETS Reporter Plus

An ETS Reporter is a person appointed to submit emission returns on behalf of an Account Holder.

Account Holders can choose to appoint this as a split role, so one person is in charge of preparing returns, and another is responsible for approving returns.

The equivalent role in the NZEUR was an 'Emissions Reporter'.

Entitlement Plus

Units earned for capturing carbon. This is voluntary. It applies to the post-1989 forestry sector and to Other Removal Activities under Schedule 4 of the Climate Change Response Act 2002 only. A Scheme participant must submit an emissions return to receive an entitlement.

Kyoto unit Plus

An internationally-tradable carbon unit created under the Kyoto Protocol. It can include:

  • Emissions reduction unit (ERU)
  • Removal unit (RMU)
  • Certified emissions reduction unit (CER)
  • Assigned amount unit (AAU)

Since 1 June 2015, only NZUs, NZ AAUs, and 2nd Commitment Period CERs can be used to meet surrender obligations in the ETS.

New Zealand Unit Types Plus
Unit type What it means What they're used for


NZU Emissions Intensive Trade Exposed

Industrial Allocation


NZU Forestry Allocation

Allocation for P90 forestry


NZU Forestry Entitlement

Entitlement for P89 forestry


NZU Other Removal Activity

Entitlement for participants who are involved with other removal activities


NZU Fishing

Allocation to fishing quota holders


NZU Permanent Forest Sink Initiative

Entitlement for Permanent Forest Sink Initiative Forestry



Units circumstances  transferred as part of negotiated greenhouse agreements in 2010 plus occasional other situations associated with reimbursements as well

The NZU is the domestic unit created for New Zealand's ETS. One NZU corresponds to one metric tonne of carbon dioxide-equivalent emissions.


Participant Plus

A person or entity that carries out an activity covered by the ETS. A Participant must report on emissions (or on carbon captured) and may need to surrender units to cover their emissions or may receive an entitlement of units for carbon capture.

Surrender Plus

Surrender means the transfer of one or more units to the Crown surrender account in the Register to meet an emissions obligation.

Transaction Authorisation Code (TAC) Plus

This is a code which is required to complete transactions in the Register (other than transfers to Crown accounts). This code is sent to the account operator approving the transaction either by email or, more securely, using SMS.

Trader Plus

A person who buys and sells carbon units for profit. Traders do not need to be participants, but may hold an account in the Register in order to buy, sell and hold NZUs.

User Plus

A user is anyone who is registered to use the NZETR and meets the qualified person criteria as per the Climate Change (Unit Register Regulations) 2008.

The equivalent role in the NZEUR was a 'Registered User'.​

Climate Change (Unit Register Regulations) 2008