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Current situation

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

Emissions profile

Nepals emissions was 45 MtCO₂e/yr in 2011 and has climbed steadily as the country has urbanized and quality of life has climbed.

As of 2011, the agriculture sector is responsible for ~64% of Nepal’s emissions. Within this sector, around three-fourths of emissions are produced from livestock reared for agricultural labor, food and wool. Crop production activities including rice cultivation, biomass burning, and emission-intensive soil management and fertilisation practices contribute to the remaining emissions from this sector. The most prominent sector in the country’s economy, agriculture, contributed to 25.8% of the country’s GDP in 2020 and in 2018 employed a fifth of Nepalis, most of whom were rural smallholder farmers practicing subsistence agriculture.15,16 Around 22% of the country’s emissions are fugitive, arising from leaky community and household-level biodigesters running on livestock manure. Within the energy sector, GHG from energy production processes in industries contribute to ~5% of the emissions. Additionally, transport contributes to ~4% of the national emissions. About 3% of the country’s emissions arise from waste and industrial processes sectors. LULUCF provides a significant and growing sink of around -13 MtCO₂e/yr, that compensates for ~30% of national emissions.

Nepal’s CO₂ emissions have grown rapidly between 1995 and 2011, mostly due to fossil fuel consumption. Non-CO₂ emissions in the country are growing at a comparatively slower pace.4

1 Government of Nepal. Second Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC). 0–21 (2020).

2 Climate Action Tracker. Nepal | Target Update Tracker. (2020).

3 Ministry of Forest and Environment. National Level Forests and Land Cover Analysis of Nepal using Google Earth Images. 46 (2019).

4 Central Department of Environmental Science Tribhuvan University. Nepal’s GHG Inventory for Third National Communication. (2017).

5 Government of Nepal. Nepal’s Long-term Strategy for Net-zero Emissions. (2021).

6 Climate Analytics. 1.5°C national pathway explorer — India (sectors: power). (2022).

7 Nepal Electricity Authority (NEA). Nepal Electricity Authority: A review in fiscal year 2020/2021. (2021).

8 Nepal Electricity Authority (NEA). A year in review (fiscal Year 2016/2017). (2017).

9 Nepal Electricity Authority (NEA). A year in review (fiscal Year 2017/2018). (2018).

10 Nepal Electricity Authority (NEA). A year in review (fiscal Year 2018/2019). (2019).

11 Nepal Electricity Authority (NEA). A year in review (fiscal Year 2019/2020). (2020).

12 IEA. Data & Statistics – IEA. (2021).

13 Government of Nepal. Nepal’s 15th Five-Year Plan, (Fiscal Year 2019/20 – 2023/24). (2019).

14 Ministry of Forests and Environment (MoFE). Assessment of Electric Mobility Targets for Nepal’s 2020 Nationally Determined Contributions (NDC). (2021).

15 National Planning Commission Central Bureau of Statistics. Report on the Nepal Labour Force Survey. (2019).

16 Ministry of Finance. Economic Survey 2020/21. (2021).

17 Ministry of Finance. Economic Survey 2018/19. (2019).

18 CBS. Annual Household Survey 2016/17. (2017).

19 Nepal Rastra Bank. Macroeconomic Indicators Of Nepal. (2021).

20 Government of Nepal. Nepal Fiscal Budget 2021/22. (2021).

21 Ministry of Forests and Environment (MoFE). Assessment of Electric Cooking Targets for Nepal’s 2020 Nationally Determined Contributions (NDC). (2021).

22 FRTC. National Land Cover Monitoring System of Nepal. (2022).

23 ESMAP. Nepal – Multi-Tier Framework (MTF) Survey – MTF_Nepal_Executive_Summary.pdf – ENERGYDATA.INFO. (2019).

24 Water and Energy Commission Secretariat. Final Report on Energy Sector Vision 2050 A.D. (2013).

25 DoTM. Details of Registered Vehicles till End of Falgun of Fiscal Year 2075-76.

26 See the Climate Action Tracker for assumptions on the conditional NDC assessment. It was not possible to estimate the impact of all of the listed mitigation actions, which means the total reduction under the conditional NDC could potentially be higher than our estimates and high uncertainty remains regarding the NDC assessment.

27 The 1.5°C compatible range is based on the Paris Agreement compatible pathways assessed by the IPCC SR1.5 filtered with sustainability criteria and downscaled from regional to national level. The median (50th percentile) to 5th percentile are provided here. Underlying global pathways and detailed methodology are made available here.

28 In analysed global-least cost pathways assessed by the IPCC Special Report 1.5°C, the energy sector assumes already a certain amount of carbon dioxide removal technologies, in this case bioenergy carbon capture and storage (BECCS). While this is unlikely to be developed in Nepal, already benefiting from a high level of land sink, these pathways tend to attribute technological CDR regardless of countries potential. Thus, the level of sinks indicated in the analysed are rather a lower estimate of what the country would need to balance by 2050.

29 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.

30 Benchmarks across countries cover combined share of hydrogen, district heating and electricity for the buildings sector. In the case of Nepal, hydrogen and district heating are unlikely to happen in Nepal which has a high renewable potential and could rely mostly on electricity which is the main component of these benchmarks in the case of Nepal.

31 Benchmarks across countries cover combined share of hydrogen, biomass and electricity for the industry sector. In the case of Nepal, hydrogen and biomass are unlikely to happen in Nepal which has a high renewable potential and could rely mostly on electricity which is the main component of these benchmarks in the case of Nepal.

32 See the Climate Action Tracker for details assumptions. It was not possible to estimate the impact of all of the listed mitigation actions, which means the total reduction under the conditional NDC could potentially be higher than the estimates.

33 Global cost-effective pathways assessed by the IPCC Special Report 1.5°C tend to include fossil fuel use well beyond the time at which these could be phased out, compared to what is understood from bottom-up approaches, and often rely on rather conservative assumptions in the development of renewable energy technologies. This tends to result in greater reliance on technological CDR than if a faster transition to renewables were achieved. The scenarios available at the time of this analysis focus particularly on BECCS as a net-negative emission technology, and our downscaling methods do not yet take national BECCS potentials into account.

Nepalʼs current GHG emissions

MtCO₂e/yr

Displayed values

By sector

  • Other
  • Industry (energy use)
  • Transport
  • Buildings
  • Power
  • Fugitive emissions
  • Agriculture
  • Waste
  • Industry (processes)
  • LULUCF
Energy (33%)64%⟵ LULUCF negative emissions

By gas

  • CH₄
  • N₂O
  • Other
  • CO₂
081%⟵ LULUCF negative emissions

Sectors by gas

Energy
060%0
Agriculture
076%0
Industry (processes)
094%0

Energy system

Nepal’s energy sector is a significant and growing source of emissions in the country. In 2021, fossil fuels comprised of ~25% of the country’s energy mix. Meanwhile, electricity contributed to only ~4% and renewables to ~3% of this share. Biomass was used to meet the remaining 69% of the country’s energy needs.16,17

In 2017, over half of the households in the country depended on firewood as their primary cooking fuel while a third of them use liquified petroleum gas (LPG). Trends show that biomass cookstoves are being steadily replaced by LPG cookstoves.18

The country’s vehicle fleet, particularly two-wheelers, are also rapidly increasing with urbanisation. Petrol and diesel consumption, mostly used in the transport sector, grew at a pace of over 21% per year between 2008 and 2019.14

Coal, which makes up a very small percentage of the total energy mix, is mostly used in brick kilns and cement industries.17

Nepal has no proven reserves of fossil fuels and imports LPG, gasoline and coal from India. These imports are the biggest contributors to Nepal’s trade deficit and contribute significantly to its emissions as well.4,19 To address these, the country plans to increase its renewable energy capacity ten-fold to 15 GW by the end of the decade and to 53.2 GW by 2050 and promote electrification of end-use sectors such as cooking and transportation.5,13

According to its 2021/2022 national budget, Nepal plans to phase out all fossil fuel-based light vehicles and replace them with electric vehicles by 2031, in addition to installing 500 charging stations throughout the country. Furthermore, the government has offered tax incentives for those that convert fossil fuel-based light vehicles to electric ones.20

While the government has provided subsidised electric cookstoves in rural areas, adoption remains low mostly due to difficulties in peak load management, lack of power infrastructure capable of handling the extra load, and absence of after-sales market services.21

Targets and commitments

Note: source for sectoral targets are from the LTS and 2ndNDC.1,5

Economy-wide targets

Target type

Other

NDC target

Unconditional target:

  • Nepal’s NDC provides policy targets in key sectors, including emissions reduction in some sectors. Nepal will unconditionally expand clean energy from 1.4 GW to 5 GW by 2030. All other targets in the NDC are conditional upon support.

Estimated conditional 2030 target:

Market mechanism

  • Nepal may explore potential markets that allow higher mitigation ambition while promoting sustainable development and environmental integrity.

Long-term target

  • Nepal has a 2045 net zero GHG emissions target that takes into account its LULUCF sector. Nepal’s LTS is conditional on international support.5

Sector coverage

EnergyIndustryWasteAgricultureLULUCF

Greenhouse gas coverage

CO₂CH₄N₂O

Sectoral targets

Energy

  • By 2030, ensure 25% of households use electric stoves as their primary mode of cooking.

Transport

  • Ensure that 90% of private and 60% of public vehicle sales will be electric by 2030. (The public passenger target does not take into account electric three-wheeled rickshaws and tempos which are already abundant in the country).
  • As a consequence, energy demand for fossil fuels will decrease from approximately 48 million GJ in the 2030 BAU scenario to 34.5 million GJ, which is around 28% decrease in fossil fuel dependency. This target will reduce emissions from a projected BAU of 3640 GgCO₂e in 2030 to 2619 GgCO₂e, which is around 28% decrease in emissions.
  • By 2030, develop 200 km of the electric rail network to support public commuting and mass transportation of goods.
  • 2.1 MtCO₂ emissions reduction in 2030 and 19.5 MtCO₂ in 2050, i.e. , 30% and 97% reduction in 2030 and 2050 respectively compared to BAU.
    • Promotion of electric mass passenger transport.
    • Switching fuel to clean energy (electricity, fuel cells, synthetic fuels/biofuels in aviation).
    • Electrification in freight transport.
    • Installation and expansion of charging stations.

Waste

  • By 2025, 380 million litres/day of wastewater will be treated before being discharged, and 60,000 cubic meters/year of faecal sludge will be managed. These two activities will reduce around 258 GgCO₂e compared to BAU.
  • Promote source segregation and management of degradable and non-degradable waste.
  • Focus on co-production of energy and organic fertiliser from solid waste, wastewater and faecal sludge.
  • 1.6 MtCO₂ emissions reduction in 2030 and 5.7 MtCO₂ reduction in 2050, i.e., 26% and 66% reduction in 2030 and 2050 respectively compared to BAU.
    • Methane recovery from landfills.
    • Incineration of waste for heat and power generation.
    • Methane generation from anaerobic digester in wastewater treatment.

Agriculture

  • By 2030, soil organic matter content of agriculture land will reach to 3.95%.
  • By 2030, the number of additional improved cattle sheds will reach to 5,00,000 for quality farm-yard manure production and use.
  • By 2030, the number of organic fertiliser production plants in the country will reach 100.4
  • By 2025, update the Rangeland Policy and develop plans for the sustainable management of rangelands.4
  • By 2030, establish 200 climate-smart villages and 500 climate-smart farms.
  • Promote intercropping, agroforestry, conservation tillage, and livestock and agricultural waste management.
  • Ensure increased access of climate-smart agricultural technologies to women, indigenous people, smallholder farmers and marginalized groups.
  • Protect, promote and support climate-resilient indigenous seeds/crop varieties through community seed banks and national gene banks.

(Reduction in energy-related emissions)

  • 0.4 MtCO₂ emissions reduction in 2030 and 2.8 MtCO₂ in 2050, i.e., 33% and 100% reduction in 2030 and 2050 respectively compared to BAU. ** Electrification in farm machinery and water pumping.
    • Promotion of solar PV pumping.

(Reduction in emissions from agriculture fermentation management practices and technologies)

  • GHG emissions: 0.4 MtCO₂ emissions reduction in 2030 and 2.8 MtCO₂ in 2050, i.e., 34% and 100% reduction in 2030 and 2050 respectively compared to BAU.
  • CO₂ emissions: 0.4 MtCO₂ emissions reduction in 2030 and 2.8 MtCO₂ in 2050, i.e., 33% and 100% in 2030 and 2050 respectively compared to BAU.
    • Employ GHG-focused genetic selection and breeding.
    • Promote animal feeds mix optimization.
    • Expand use of animal feed additives.
    • Expand use of feed grain processing for improved digestibility.
    • Improve animal health monitoring and illness prevention.
    • Improve technologies that increase livestock production efficiencies.

(Reduction in emissions from improvement in soil carbon, soil health, and soil fertility under grassland and cropland)

  • 0.12 MtCO₂ emissions reduction in 2030 and 0.5 MtCO₂ reduction in 2050, i.e., 21.5% and 67.1% reduction in 2030 and 2050 respectively compared to BAU emissions.
    • Expand use of anaerobic manure digestion.
    • Make efficient use of livestock nutrients.
    • Apply nitrification inhibitors on pasture.
    • Promote technologies that increase livestock production efficiencies.

(Reduction in emissions from improvement nutrient use and manure management towards sustainable and resilient agricultural systems)

  • 0.8 MtCO₂ emissions reduction in 2030 and 3.6 MtCO₂ reduction in 2050 i.e., 21.6% and 67.3% reduction in 2030 and 2050 respectively compared to BAU emissions.
    • Improve rice paddy water management.
    • Expand adoption of dry direct seeding in rice cultivation.
    • Improved rice straw management.
    • Promote optimal rice varietal selection.
    • Improve fertilization of rice.
  • 0.7 MtCO₂ emissions reduction in 2030 and 2.9 MtCO₂ reduction in 2050, i.e., 20.2% and 63.2% reduction in 2030 and 2050 respectively compared to BAU emissions.
    • Scale low- and no tillage practices.
    • Reduce nitrogen overapplication.
    • Promote variable-rate fertilisation.
    • Adopt nitrogen-fixing rotations.
    • Improve fertilisation timing.
    • Expand adoption of controlled-release and stabilised fertilisers.

(Reduction in emissions from improvement in livestock management systems, including agro-pastoral production systems and others)

  • 1.4 MtCO₂ emissions reduction in 2030 and 6.4 MtCO₂ reduction in 2050, i.e., 5.8% and 18.0% reduction in 2030 and 2050 respectively compared to BAU emissions.
    • Methane recovery.
    • Increase incineration.

Power

  • By 2030, expand clean energy generation from approximately 1.4 GW to 15 GW, of which 5-10 % will be generated from mini and micro-hydro power, solar, wind and bio-energy.
  • Of this, 5 GW is an unconditional NDC target. The remainder (10 GW) is dependent upon the provision of funding by the international community.
  • Required power plant capacity in 2050 will be: 50 GW from hydropower; 2.1 GW from grid connected solar PV power plants; and 1.1 GW from off grid and isolated renewable energy power systems.
    • Development of and integration of variable renewable energy sources (VRE) into power systems.
    • Scale-up of distributed energy resources (minigrid, off-grid isolated wind, solar, microhydro, and biogas).
    • Development of policy on regional power sector integration, VRE integration, and grid flexibility.

Buildings

  • By 2030, ensure 25% of households use electric stoves as their primary mode of cooking.
  • By 2025, install 500,000 improved cookstoves, specifically in rural areas. By 2025, install an additional 200,000 household biogas plants and 500 large scale biogas plants.
  • For 2030, these three targets set for cooking can reduce emissions from approximately 2064 GgCO₂e from BAU to 1599 GgCO₂e, which is around a 23% reduction in emissions.
  • Adopt national building codes and prepare Integrated Urban Development Plans (IUDPs) emphasising low carbon and climate-resilient urban settlements in all municipalities.
  • By 2025, revise the urban environment management guidelines to incorporate activities related to promoting low carbon and climate-resilient urban settlements.
  • 1.7 MtCO₂ emissions reduction in 2030 and 4.45 MtCO₂ in 2050, i.e. 53% and 100% reduction in 2030 and 2050 respectively compared to BAU emissions in residential sector.
    • Electrification in all end-use services in urban areas.
    • Promotion of clean cooking technologies with high efficiency and low emissions in rural areas.
    • Electrification in cooking, space heating, water heating, and lighting in rural areas.
    • Promotion of efficient technologies in all end -use services.
  • 1.2 MtCO₂ emissions reduction in 2030, i.e., 100% reduction in 2030 5 compared to BAU emissions in commercial sector.
    • Achieve total electrification in all commercial sector.

LULUCF

  • By 2030, maintain 45% of the total area of the country under forest cover (including other wooded land limited to less than 4%).
  • By 2030, manage 50% of Tarai and Inner Tarai forests and 25% of middle hills and mountain forests sustainably, including through the use of funding from REDD+ initiatives.4
  • By 2030, upgrade watershed health and vitality in at least 20 districts to a higher condition category.4
  • By 2030, create an inventory of wetlands in Nepal and sustainably manage vulnerable wetlands.4

Industry

  • By 2030, adopt low emission technologies in brick and cement industries to reduce coal consumption and air pollution, including through the development and/or enactment of emission standards.4
  • By 2025, formulate guidelines and establish mechanisms to monitor emissions from large industries.4

Footnotes