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

In brief

This is a summary of the most important findings of our analysis. Get a brief overview over the most important figures and entry points into the various parts of the in depth analysis.

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Ambition gap

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Kenyaʼs total GHG emissions

excl. LULUCF MtCO₂e/yr

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Displayed values
Reference year
−100 %−50 %0 %50 %100 %200020202040206012345
  • 1.5°C compatible pathways
  • Middle of the 1.5°C compatible range
  • Current policy projections
  • 1.5°C emissions range
  • Historical emissions
Legend
  1. 1
    1.5°C emissions level
    −17 %
  2. 2
    NDC (conditional)
    +102 %
  3. 3
    NDC (unconditional)
    +135 %
  4. 4
    Ambition gap
    −118 %
  5. 5
    Reference year
    2010
Key messages

Kenya’s updated Nationally Determined Contributions (NDC) targets a 32% emissions reduction below BAU by 2030 with 79% of mitigation costs conditional on international support. This translates to a conditional target of 102% above 2010 emission levels or 108 MtCO2e/yr by 2030, excluding LULUCF.1

1 Climate Action Tracker. Kenya | Climate Action Tracker. (2020).

2 Government of Kenya. National Climate Change Action Plan (Kenya) 2018-2022 Volume 3: Mitigation Technical Analysis Report. (2018).

3 Ministry of Energy. Energy Matrix – Ministry of Energy. Ministry of Energy. (2020).

4 Geothermal Development Company. GDC| Geothermal Development Company. Our Story. (2021).

5 Ministry of Environment and Forestry. Kenya’s Updated Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC). (2020).

6 Government of Kenya. Third Medium Term Plan: 2018-2022. (2018).

7 National Environmental Tribunal. Save Lamu & others v NEMA in the National Environmental Tribunal. National Environmental Tribunal. (2019).

8 Ministry of Energy & Clean Cooking Association of Kenya. Household Cooking Sector Study: Assessment of the Supply and Demand of Cooking Solutions at the Household Level. (2019).

9 World Bank & CIAT. Climate-Smart Agriculture in Kenya. CSA Country Profiles for Africa, Asia, and Latin America and the Caribbean Series. (2015).

10 FAO & New Zealand Agricultural Greenhouse Gas Research Centre. Options for Low-Emission Development in the Kenya Dairy Sector – Reducing enteric methane for food security and livelihoods. (2017).

11 Government of Kenya. National Climate Change Action Plan (Kenya) 2018-2022. (2018).

12 IEA. World Energy Balances 2020 Edition. (2020).

13 Republic of Kenya. Second Voluntary National Review on the Implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals. (2020).

14 Clancy, J., Oparaocha, S. & Roehr, U. Gender equity and renewable energies. Thematic background paper. (2004).

15 Ministry of Energy. National Energy Policy. (2018).

16 Yatani, U. Emissions trading system central to environment goals. Business Daily. (2021).

17 Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources. Kenya’s Nationally Determined Contribution. (2016).

18 Government of Kenya. The Energy Act, 2019. (Government Printer, 2019).

19 Government of Kenya. Green Economy Strategy and Implementation Plan-Kenya 2016-2030. (2016).

20 Government of Kenya. National Sustainable Waste Management Policy. (2021).

21 Government of Kenya. Kenya Climate Smart Agriculture Strategy – 2017-2026. (2017).

22 Government of Kenya. National Strategy for Achieving and Maintaining Over 10% Tree Cover by 2022. (2019).

23 International Energy Agency. Access to electricity – SDG7: Data and Projections – Analysis – IEA. SDG7: Data and Projections. (2021).

24 Ngeno, G., Otieno, N., Troncoso, K. & Edwards, R. Opportunities for Transition to Clean Household Energy – Application of the Household Energy Assessment Rapid Tool: Kenya. (2018).

25 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 countries, they underestimate the feasible space for developed 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.

26 %’s include stacking which is a common feature of household cooking in Kenya.

27 The ’s do not add up to 100 because of stacking where a large number of households use more than one type.

With international support, Kenya 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 40-53 MtCO2e/yr by 2030 or a reduction of 1-26% below 2010 levels by 2030, excluding LULUCF emissions.

Current policies indicate that Kenya is on track to meeting its conditional NDC commitment. The level of uncertainties on LULUCF emissions might strongly influence the target compatibility with Paris compatible pathways.

Kenya’s NDC only alludes to a net-zero target by 2050 stating that the NDC implementation ‘is part of a transformation to a low-emission society by 2050’.5 It is hoped that its next climate change action plan will provide further details on this.

On a net zero trajectory, 1.5°C compatible pathway would require for Kenya´s remaining GHG emissions level to be below 37 (31-43) MtCO2e/yr by 2050 or 332(20-42%) below 2010 levels excluding LULUCF. Reducing LULUCF emissions to become a sink will be key for the country to reach net zero GHG and in the long term to balance its remaining emissions.25 Measures in the agriculture and energy sectors are key in achieving decarbonisation. The use of biomass in cooking is especially a key area of focus that will enable transition to a clean and sustainable energy for cooking and steer emissions reductions from the forestry sector.8

Abandonment of plans on coal and other fossil fuel development whilst increasing the development of renewable energy sources will aid the country’s alignment to a Paris compatible pathway.5

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Key messages

Renewable energy makes up about 90% of Kenya’s power mix, with geothermal at 49%, followed by hydro at 40%.3 This is expected to rise to 100% by 2030 with plans to increase geothermal by 123% from the current 860 MW to 1925 MW by 2030.4 Increasing a decarbonised and affordable electricity mix will be key to meet electricity demand on a sustainable path and reduce reliance on gas fuel for non-electric cooking as prioritised by the country.

While Kenya is well positioned to soon reach a fully decarbonised power mix, this is likely to change should the planned coal capacity be implemented.5,6 Its only proposed coal plant experienced massive opposition and a court case stopped its further development.7 Development of the coal plant will jeopardise plans of achieving 100% renewable power by 2030, face the risk of high-cost stranded assets and be locked-in in a carbon intensive pathway.

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Key power sector benchmarks

Renewables shares and year of zero emissions power Including the use of BECCS

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Current targets
Required targets
2025
  1. 2025 98 to 100% Renewable share
  2. 2025-2030 Zero emissions power
2030
  1. 2030 100 % Renewable share

Footnotes