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Current situation

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

Emissions profile

The agriculture sector has historically played a major part in the total GHG emissions of the country, showing a fluctuating trend from year to year, and discrepancies between different data sources used. According to PRIMAP-Hist data, when excluding LULUCF, the agriculture sector accounted for 53% of Botswana emissions in 2017, making it the largest contributor to its total national emissions, estimated at 18.9 MtCO₂e/yr in 2017.1

However, the First Biennial Update Report to the UNFCCC indicated that the agriculture sector had a share of around 12% when excluding LULUCF emissions in 2015, highlighting the uncertainties related to agriculture emissions in the country’s carbon footprint.1

According to the country’s First Biennial Update Report, the energy sector contributed the largest share of emissions – 69%. The Industrial Processes and Product Use (IPPU) and waste sectors contributed the least amount of emissions, at 9% and 6% respectively.5 The LULUCF sector, while calculated alongside agriculture, served as a carbon sink, producing negative emissions of approximately -1.4 MtCO₂e/yr in 2015, which is equivalent to around -20% of total national emissions.

Government emissions projections for 2019 show Botswana’s GHG emissions rising to 49 MtCO₂e/yr, or 81% above 2010 levels, by 2030, under a BAU scenario – with population growth, economic development, and the energy and Agriculture, Forestry and Other Land Use (AFOLU) sectors identified as major drivers.4

According to government projections, by 2028, emissions in the energy sector are anticipated to increase to 14 MtCO₂e/yr; around 3 MtCO₂e/yr in IPPU; and around 0.71 MtCO₂e/yr in the waste sector.4 Energy supply is projected to rise to between 1017 MW and almost 1400 MW by 2025, with the majority of the projected mix to be sourced from thermal power generators, which are primarily fuelled by coal.1,3 This rise can be attributed to national goals for enhancing rural electrification, as well as Botswana’s intentions to procure strategic petroleum stocks, and increase coal production for power generation and exports.3 The country’s CO₂ sink capacity and resources are also anticipated to decrease due to continued deforestation.1 These trends and decisions pose a significant threat to the alignment of Botswana’s emissions with a 1.5°C-compatible pathway, and create a risk of costly investment in stranded assets.

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 current GHG emissions


Displayed values

By sector

  • Power
  • Transport
  • Buildings
  • Fugitive emissions
  • Other
  • Industry (energy use)
  • Agriculture
  • Industry (processes)
  • Waste
Energy (72%)⟵ LULUCF negative emissions

By gas

  • CO₂
  • CH₄
  • N₂O
  • Other

Sectors by gas

Industry (processes)

Energy system

The First Biennial Update Report (2019) indicates that, in 2011, the residential, transport, and industry sectors are Botswana’s largest energy consumers at 42%, 27% and 23% respectively.1 In recent years, transport has overtaken the residential sector, accounting for 45% of total final consumption against 32% for residential sector.2 Fuel wood is also a principal energy source for cooking for 46% of national households, and 77% of rural households.1

Cement and soda ash production drove the majority of industrial processes and product use (IPPU) emissions, while solid waste disposal and wastewater treatment/discharge accounted for the waste sector emissions. In the agriculture, forestry, and other land use (AFOLU) sector, livestock, aggregate sources, and non-CO₂ land emissions were the primary drivers, while land use served as a significant sink.1

With estimated coal reserves of over 212 billion tonnes, Botswana has roughly 66% of Africa’s identified untapped coal reserves, and the country is actively seeking investors to exploit this significant resource potential.6 Coal mines currently in operation have a total annual capacity of approximately 3 million tonnes. Most of the coal is utilised for domestic use, with some being exported to South Africa, Namibia, and Zimbabwe.7 The country has no known petroleum reserves, and therefore imports the fuel and its products, largely from South Africa.

As of 2018, Botswana’s primary energy almost entirely consists of fossil fuels. Coal production and oil imports make up 42% and 37% of the mix respectively, while biofuels—primarily fuel wood — comprise 21% of the total supply.8 Similarly, the power sector is dominated by coal which accounted for 97% of the power mix in 2020, while oil contributed 2.5%.8,9 The role of renewables in the electricity mix remains insignificant.9

While Botswana has started developing a comprehensive renewable energy strategy with the support of the World Bank, its current projections indicate less than 200 MW out of 1400 MW of energy will be supplied by solar power by 2025.3 By comparison, the same projections indicate that 1200 MW of energy will be supplied by coal by 2025.

Similarly, while the country’s Third National Communication indicates the intention to eliminate coal subsidies, Botswana aims to expand its monetisation of coal through a Coal Road Map for power generation and export, aimed at weaning off petroleum imports and leveraging the coal resources to increase exports to other countries.3

In 2020, the country awarded three generation licenses for coal plants with a collective 827 MW capacity.10 Botswana’s state-owned coal mine recently announced intentions to increase capacity by 35%, and the national Investment and Trade Promotion Authority indicates that up to 24 new mines can be opened.6,7 Considering the broad international recognition of the need to phase out coal in the coming years, these policies pose a large risk of creating high-cost stranded assets in Botswana that will require more aggressive phase out plans in the future.

Targets and commitments

Economy-wide targets

Target type

Base year emissions target

NDC target

  • 15% below 2010 by 2030.
  • Botswana has indicated a single target in its NDC. It had committed to identifying the share of government and international funding to meet its mitigation targets, but has not reflected these figures to date.

Note: Botswana’s NDC covers the sectors of energy (stationary and mobile sources, waste and agriculture excluding enteric fermentation).

Market mechanism

  • Commitment to “use market mechanisms under the convention”.2
  • Introduction of subsidies for solar appliances and electricity; and introduction of net metering policies.
  • Removal of subsidies on coal-powered electricity generation.
  • Introduction of tax on petroleum products.
  • Introduction of tax exemptions on environmentally friendly and energy efficient housing.
  • Government serving as guarantor on climate change project loans.4

Long-term target

While Botswana committed to the development of a long-term low carbon strategy in its NDC, no further developments have been made to date.

Sector coverage


Greenhouse gas coverage


Sectoral targets


  • 25% of urban and rural households will have switched to solar geysers from conventional geysers by 2030.1
  • Proposed removal of subsidies for coal.4
  • By 2030, the sale of inefficient refrigeration will be terminated, and all households will have energy-efficient refrigerators.1


  • No explicit targets have been indicated.


  • 90% of gas from sewerage ponds is captured and used for electricity generation by 2030.1
  • 90% of methane generated is captured from landfills is used for domestic use.1


  • To reduce electricity consumption by 25% and 50% for compact fluorescent lamps and LEDs respectively by 2030.1
  • To produce 328.5 MWh of electricity from two 50 MW solar power plants by 2030.1
  • All street lights will be solar powered by 2030.1


  • 50% of the population will use public transport to go to work by 2030.1


  • 50% of farmers to switch to solar electricity pumps from diesel-powered pumps by 2030.1


  • No explicit targets have been indicated.