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Ambition gap

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

1.5°C compatible pathways

Through its first 2015 NDC, Ghana has committed to a conditional target of reducing emissions by 45% below BAU levels in 2030. Excluding LULUCF, this translates to an emissions increase of up to zero to 14% above 2015 levels (or 30-35 MtCO₂e/yr) by 2030.1

With international support, Ghana will be able to implement its domestic emissions pathway and close the gap between its fair share level and domestic emissions level. Paris compatible pathways show emissions levels of 22-29 MtCO₂e/yr by 2030 or a reduction of 4-26% below 2010 levels by 2030, excluding LULUCF emissions. The lower bound of the estimated 2030 conditional target would place the country close to the 1.5°C compatible range.

Long term pathway

As of June 2021, Ghana has not expressed a net zero target in its national policies or commitments.
Least-cost 1.5°C compatible pathways indicate that Ghana should emit no more than 21 MtCO₂e by 2050 (excl. LULUCF) – a reduction of GHG emissions of 31% below 2015 levels.

1.5°C compatible pathways indicate that the energy sector would need to be the first to fully decarbonise by 2050 in some scenarios. Remaining GHG emissions will largely be from the agriculture sector, alongside smaller, but nonetheless significant, contributions from the waste and industrial processes sectors.

On the road to net zero, Ghana will require negative emissions to balance its remaining emissions. While carbon dioxide removal technologies are one avenue, the research and cost demands render them somewhat unfeasible in Ghana’s context. However, efforts to reduce LULUCF emissions, including expanding and accelerating Ghana’s commitments to limit deforestation and afforest degraded lands, may create effective national carbon sinks, which can be driven by reducing traditional biomass consumption.1

1 Republic of Ghana. Ghana’s intended nationally determined contribution (INDC) and accompanying explanatory note. (2015).

2 Ministry of Energy, Government of Ghana. Ghana Renewable Energy Master Plan. (2019).

3 Ministry of Petroleum, Government of Ghana. Gas Master Plan Developed By Ministry of Petroleum. (2016).

4 Government of Ghana. Ghana’s Second Biennial Update Report. (2018).

5 Environmental Protection Agency of Ghana. Ghana’s Fourth National Greenhouse Gas Inventory Report to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. (2019).

6 Environmental Protection Agency. Ghana’s Fourth National Communication to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. (2020).

7 African Development Bank. Climate Change Profile – Ghana. (2018).

8 IAEA. IAEA Reviews Progress of Ghana’s Nuclear Infrastructure Development | IAEA. (2019).

9 Values expressed in Global Warming Potentials from the Second Assessment Report (SAR).

10 While AFOLU as a sector is explicitly included in Ghana’s NDC, it is unclear if Agriculture is explicitly considered. As per a UNDP report, “A review of the NDCs to include the agriculture and industrial sectors will be necessary in increasing Ghana’s climate ambition under the Paris Agreement”. We assume here that Agriculture is already considered.

11 Ghana conditional NDC is 45% below BAU by 2030 which translates in 108% emissions reduction above 2010, base year provided in the NDC as reference for the BAU scenario. Ghana’s NDC covers all sectors of the economy including LULUCF. For the purpose of comparability, we assessed the NDC target excluding LULUCF emissions. Two methods are employed providing the range of the assessed NDC. The higher bound is based on the BAU projected by 2030 excluding LULUCF from the 4th National Communication converted to Global Warming Potentials AR4 using the ratio SAR/AR4 from the PRIMAP-Hist dataset and applying the conditional emissions reduction target of -45% below BAU by 2030.
The lower bound of the NDC is based on an estimated BAU excluding LULUCF scaled to 2012 historical year excluding LULUCF used in the analysis: PRIMAP-Hist 2019 dataset and in Global Warming Potentials AR4. We apply then the conditional NDC emissions reduction target of -45%.


Ghanaʼs total GHG emissions

excl. LULUCF MtCO₂e/yr

Displayed values
Reference year
Reference year
1.5°C emissions level
NDC (conditional)
Ambition gap
  • 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
NDC (conditional)
1.5°C emissions level
Ref. year 2015

Energy system transformation

A 1.5°C compatible pathway would see the share of fossil fuels in Ghana’s primary energy mix reduce from over 50% in 2017 to around 10% in 2040, and ultimately to less than 5% by 2050. Transportation and electricity production account for the largest shares of sectoral emissions, and thus hold the greatest potential for achieving significant decarbonisation.7,8

This is possible with the rapid and extensive uptake of renewables to 47-89% of the energy mix by 2040, and close to 100% by 2050. While 50% of Ghana’s energy mix was renewable in 2017, the vast majority of this is traditional biomass such as wood and charcoal, which have negative health and sustainability implications. Ghana’s uptake of renewable energy would need to facilitate a transition from traditional biofuels to electrification at the household level.7

Lower penetration of renewables would require the development of carbon dioxide removal approaches (CDRs) such as land sinks or bioenergy with carbon capture and storage (BECCS) to balance residual emissions. Some models show up to 18% of the energy mix sourced from BECCS and other zero carbon technologies between 2040-2050 unlikely to be implemented in the country. These technologies are not yet available in the country and would require high up-front costs, which could be avoided by implementing stringent policies to reduce land sector emissions. The LULUCF sector could subsequently become a carbon sink and contribute to negative emissions further.


Ghanaʼs primary energy mix

petajoule per year

SSP1 Low CDR reliance
20192030204020501 0001 500
SSP1 High CDR reliance
20192030204020501 0001 500
Low Energy Demand
20192030204020501 0001 500
High Energy Demand - Low CDR reliance
20192030204020501 0001 500
  • Negative emissions technologies via BECCS
  • Unabated fossil
  • Renewables incl. Biomass
  • Nuclear and/or fossil with CCS

Ghanaʼs 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 Ghana. 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
19 to 27
16 to 22
12 to 20
Relative to reference year in %
−39 to −14%
−51 to −30%
−62 to −37%
Total CO₂
8 to 11
2 to 8
−1 to 4
2047 to 2066
Relative to reference year in %
−38 to −14%
−85 to −42%
−107 to −67%