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

Last update: June 2021

Emissions profile

Kenya’s emissions were 83.1 MtCO₂e/yr in 2010 and is projected to be around 70-106 MtCO₂e/yr by 2030 under current policies]

Agriculture is the largest emitter of greenhouse gases in Kenya, accounting for 39% in 2010, followed by energy and LULUCF at 30% and 25%, respectively. Agriculture emissions are dominated by methane (CH₄) and nitrous oxide (N₂O) from livestock and crops.5 The dairy sector is the main driver of emissions within agriculture, contributing to around 3.5% of total national GDP in 2017.9,10 Energy sector emissions are mainly from combustion, thermal plants for power generation, use of fossil fuels in the transport sector as well as kerosene for household cooking, lighting and heating and other biomass in cooking and heating among others.5,8 LULUCF emissions are mostly from land conversion for agriculture, deforestation and burning of cropwaste and remains in agricultural land.11 It is projected that LULUCF will be the second largest emitting sector after agriculture by 2030.2,11

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.

Kenyaʼs current GHG emissions


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Displayed values

By sector

  • Fugitive emissions
  • Power
  • Other
  • Transport
  • Industry (energy use)
  • Buildings
  • Agriculture
  • Industry (processes)
  • Waste
Energy (42%)0

By gas

  • CH₄
  • CO₂
  • N₂O
  • Other

Sectors by gas

Industry (processes)

Energy system

More than 60% of primary energy in Kenya comes from biomass use, the majority being the use of traditional biomass for heating and cooking appliances, followed by oil consumption, mostly in the transport sector.12 In its 2020 Voluntary National Report (VNR) on Sustainable development goals (SDGs), Kenya reported that in 2019, 75% of the population in Kenya still relied on unclean fuels, mostly traditional biomass, charcoal and kerosene.13 Besides the high emissions challenge with the use of unclean fuels, it also caused respiratory illnesses, mostly among women and children who are responsible for household cooking.10,14 A 2019 cooking survey report by the Ministry of Energy found that only 3% of the population had access to electric cooking appliances and out of this just 2.9% used electricity for cooking.8 30% of the population used liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) for cooking in combination with other sources, mainly firewood and charcoal.8,26 The country has prioritised access to electricity and other non-electric cooking in its policies which include distribution of affordable gas cylinders through the Mwananchi gas project, to low-income households, development of off-grid solar through the KOSAP project, promotion of electric cooking and biogas uptake among other strategies.11,15 In 2019 Kenya adopted the Energy Act (2019) that sets out key provisions in the energy sector, as envisioned by the 2018 Energy Policy and Vision 2030 (Third Medium Term – MTPIII), reiterating its vision of low-carbon energy development and universal access to sustainable energy for all by 2030.6,15,18

Targets and commitments

Economy-wide targets

Target type

Baseline scenario target

NDC target

  • 32% below BAU by 2030 (incl. LULUCF). [1]5 Kenya will finance 21% of the expected mitigation costs itself, with the remaining 79% subject to international support.
Conditional target
  • Estimated at 108 MtCO₂e/yr by 2030 or 102% above 2010 levels by 2030 (excl. LULUCF).1
Unconditional target
  • Estimated at 126 MtCO₂e/yr by 2030 or 35% above 2010 levels by 2030 (excl. LULUCF).1

Note: Kenya indicated in its NDC that it will finance 21% of the expected mitigation costs of the target, the remaining 79% conditional to international support.

Market mechanism

  • There is intention to engage in market mechanisms based on national legislation. The Ministry of Finance is currently developing the Kenya Emissions Trading System for this purpose.16

Long-term target

  • Kenya has not set a long-term target but is in the process of developing its long-term low carbon development strategy.5,9,14

Sector coverage


Greenhouse gas coverage


Sectoral targets


  • Emission targets are set at 6.09 MtCO₂e.2 Strategies set out include clean cooking, off-grid solar installations and geothermal power development with a target of 2405 MW new renewables by 2023.11


  • Emission reduction goal of 3.46 MtCO₂e is set out for this sector.2 These are to be achieved through development of bus rapid transit (BRT) and Non-Motorised Transport (NMT) infrastructure, electric vehicles, rail transport and uptake and promotion of low-carbon technologies in the aviation sector.11


  • A target of 0.39 MtCO₂e is outlined in the MTAR2.
  • Kenya’s National Sustainable Waste Management Policy outlines a zero-waste principle through a ‘waste hierarchy and circular economy’ approach.20 Currently just 10% of waste generated is recycled.20


  • The emission reduction target is set at 20.1 MtCO₂e for this sector.2,17 Kenya intends to achieve 10% tree cover by 2022 through the implementation of its National Strategy.5,6,11,22 This would lead to abatement of 40.3 MtCO₂e by 2030.2

Note: Kenya’s updated NDC does not provide current sectoral targets.5 This will be released in the upcoming Mitigation Technical Analysis Report (MTAR).2 The 2018-2022 National Climate Change Action Plan (NCCAP) and MTAR2 outlines sectoral targets related to the 2015 NDC targeting a 30% emission reduction.11,17


  • Emission reduction goal of up to 9.32 MtCO₂e/yr in the power sector.2 Actions to achieve this include enhanced development of renewable energy sources and decommissioning of thermal plants.2,11,15


  • Specific targets for this sector are not set but the MTP III, and the Green Economy Strategy make reference to green buildings and infrastructure.6,19 Besides the energy policy envisages solar panel installation and increased efficiency for buildings that would lead to reduced emissions.15


  • A target of 2.77 MtCO₂e is set for the agriculture sector.2 The 2016-2026 Climate Smart Agriculture Strategy outlines strategies to meet this target. They include among others, reduced use of fire to manage croplands, ‘conservation tillage’ and agroforestry that have mitigation potentials of 0.29, 1.09 and 4.16 MtCO₂e by 2030.2,11,21

Industry (processes)

  • The target outlined for this sector is 0.78 MtCO₂e by 2030.2 Strategies set out to achieve this in the NCCAP include implementation of the charcoal sector NAMA and energy efficiency in industrial processes with mitigation potential of 5 MtCO₂e/yr and 1.1 MtCO₂e/yr respectively by 2030.11