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Ambition gap

What is Botswanaʼs pathway to limit global warming to 1.5°C?

1.5°C compatible pathways

In its NDC, Botswana expressed a single target of reducing emissions by 15% compared to 2010 levels by 2030. Botswana’s NDC only covers the energy sector, waste and agricultural emissions. Enteric fermentation emissions, which play a significant role in agricultural emissions, is excluded from the NDC target coverage.1

1.5°C compatible domestic emissions pathways would require Botswana’s emissions to be reduced by 46-57% relative to 2010 levels, excluding LULUCF. This translates to total national emissions between 12-15 MtCO₂e/yr, excluding LULUCF.

It should be noted that historical datasets indicate significantly high variations in the historical emissions for Botswana. As a result, the base year chosen may have a significant effect on the resulting emissions, and subsequently the emission reduction target chosen by a country.13

While Botswana identifies several mitigation actions in its First Biennial Report to achieve the targeted 15% reduction, the country will have to significantly expand and accelerate its interventions for alignment with a 1.5°C compatible trajectory.

The implementation of Botswana’s domestic emissions pathway could be made possible with and through international support to close the gap between its fair share level and domestic emissions level. While Botswana’s NDC does not specify the level of reductions requiring financial support and the level of reductions it aims to reach domestically, it states the need for international support.

Long term pathway

To date, Botswana has not submitted a long-term low emissions development strategy. Our analysis shows that the country would need to emit no more than 10 MtCO₂e/yr by 2050 (excl. LULUCF) to be 1.5°C compatible. This is equivalent to an emissions reduction of 62% below 2010 levels.12

The energy sector would be the first to decarbonise in some scenarios. The remaining emissions would overwhelmingly be from the agriculture sector, with some scenarios indicating minor contributions from the sectors of waste and industrial processes.

On the road to net zero, Botswana would need to balance its remaining emissions through reducing deforestation to increase its land sinks or carbon dioxide removal technologies such as BECCS, which have risks and are accompanied with extensive up-front research and financing costs. As part of efforts to enhance mitigation action in the land sector, the country would need to reduce deforestation and wildfires, and transition from use of traditional biofuels to electrification.1

1 Ministry of Environment, N. R. C. and T. Botswana’s First Biennial Update Report (BUR) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. (2019).

2 Government of Botswana. Botswana Intended Nationally Determined Contribution. (2016).

3 Government of Botswana. National Development Plan 11. (2017).

4 Ministry of Environment, N. R. C. and T. Botswana’s Third National Communication to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. (2019).

5 Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research. Paris Reality Check: PRIMAP-hist. Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research. (2021).

6 BITC Research Department. Investment Opportunities in the Coal Sector: Investor Factsheet. (2016).

7 Benza, B. Botswana’s state-owned coal miner aims to boost output by 35%. Reuters. (2021).

8 International Energy Agency. Botswana: Data Browser. (2021).

9 United Nations Environment Programme. Energy Profile: Botswana.

10 Bungane, B. Botswana grants first ever generation licenses to IPPs. ESI Africa. (2020).

11 Adedoyin, A. et al. Botswana Greenhouse Gas (GHG) Inventories for Biennial Update Report (BUR). (2016).

12 While global cost-effective pathways assessed by the IPCC Special Report 1.5°C provide useful guidance for an upper-limit of emissions trajectories for developed countries, they underestimate the feasible space for such countries to reach net zero earlier. The current generation of models tend to depend strongly on land-use sinks outside of currently developed countries and include fossil fuel use well beyond the time at which these could be phased out, compared to what is understood from bottom-up approaches. The scientific teams which provide these global pathways constantly improve the technologies represented in their models – and novel CDR technologies are now being included in new studies focused on deep mitigation scenarios meeting the Paris Agreement. A wide assessment database of these new scenarios is not yet available; thus, we rely on available scenarios which focus particularly on BECCS as a net-negative emission technology. Accordingly, we do not yet consider land-sector emissions (LULUCF) and other CDR approaches which developed countries will need to implement in order to counterbalance their remaining emissions and reach net zero GHG are not considered here due to data availability.

13 It should also be noted that there are significant discrepancies between the base year emissions expressed in the NDC and in historical datasets. The NDC indicates 2010 emissions as 8.3 MtCO₂e, while historical datasets puts the value at 27 MtCO₂e. The NDC, however, does not account for significant sources of CH₄ emissions from the agriculture sector, and aims to realise its mitigations from the energy sector exclusively. To this end, we have interpreted the baseline indicated in the NDC as being comparable to the energy sector only, as opposed to being representative of the entire emissions baseline for 2010. The calculations provided in these sections therefore rely upon the baseline emissions indicated in the historical datasets for Botswana, as opposed to the NDC.


Botswanaʼs total GHG emissions

excl. LULUCF MtCO₂e/yr

Displayed values
Reference year
Reference year
1.5°C emissions level
  • 1.5°C compatible pathways
  • Middle of the 1.5°C compatible range
  • Current policy projections
  • 1.5°C emissions range
  • Historical emissions
2030 emissions levels
1.5°C emissions level
Ref. year 2015

Energy system transformation

Botswana primary energy is mostly dominated by fossil fuels, with oil and coal accounting for close to 80% of the total primary energy in 2019.

1.5°C compatible pathways indicate a steep reduction of fossil fuels, reaching around 30% of the fuel mix in 2040, and roughly 10% by 2050. With residential, transportation, and industrial uses accounting for the majority of energy consumption in the country, these sectors represent the greatest potential for achieving significant decarbonisation.11

This is possible with the rapid uptake of renewable energies, which could make 70% of the energy mix by 2040, and close to 90% by 2050. While 20% of Botswana’s energy mix was renewable in 2017, the vast majority of this is from traditional biomass — particularly wood-fuel — which has negative health impacts and sustainability implications.11 Botswana’s uptake of renewable energy has the potential to facilitate a transition from traditional biofuels to electrification, with a key focus on rural areas.1

Lower penetration of renewables would, for Botswana, potentially require the development and upscaling of carbon dioxide removal approaches (CDRs), such as land sinks or bioenergy with carbon capture and storage (BECCS). Some models indicate that between 18-30% of the energy mix could be sourced from BECCS between 2040-2050.

These technologies are currently unavailable in Botswana, and would require high up-front costs. These could be avoided by implementing policies to rapidly increase the share of renewable energy in the energy mix and to reduce land-use emissions, and maintain and enhance the role of LULUCF sector — and forests and grasslands in particular — as a significant national carbon sink.1


Botswanaʼs primary energy mix

petajoule per year

SSP1 Low CDR reliance
SSP1 High CDR reliance
Low Energy Demand
High Energy Demand - Low CDR reliance
  • Negative emissions technologies via BECCS
  • Unabated fossil
  • Renewables incl. Biomass
  • Nuclear and/or fossil with CCS

Botswanaʼs total CO₂ emissions

excl. LULUCF MtCO₂/yr

  • 1.5°C compatible pathways
  • 1.5°C emissions range
  • Middle of the 1.5°C compatible range
  • Historical emissions

1.5°C compatible emissions benchmarks

Key emissions benchmarks of Paris compatible Pathways for Botswana. The 1.5°C compatible range is based on the Paris Agreement compatible pathways from the IPCC SR1.5 filtered with sustainability criteria. The median (50th percentile) to 5th percentile and middle of the range are provided here. Relative reductions are provided based on the reference year.

Reference year
Reference year
Year of net zero GHG
incl. BECCS excl. LULUCF and novel CDR
Total GHG
Megatonnes CO₂ equivalent per year
10 to 13
6 to 9
4 to 7
Relative to reference year in %
−25 to −5%
−55 to −35%
−69 to −44%
Total CO₂
4 to 6
1 to 3
0 to 1
2048 to 2066
Relative to reference year in %
−39 to −17%
−90 to −61%
−102 to −84%