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Ambition gap

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

1.5°C compatible pathways

This analysis was conducted on the basis of Ukraine’s 2021 updated nationally determined contribution and before the brutal and unwarranted Russian military invasion in the country.

We are publishing it to show that the Ukrainian government had plans in place to facilitate a transition to a low carbon economy.

Once peace is restored, in addition to very large reconstruction and humanitarian needs, Ukraine will need international support to build a climate-resilient society and economy in line with the Paris Agreement.

In July 2021, Ukraine updated its 2030 emissions target from a 40% reduction below 1990 levels to 65% below 1990 levels including LULUCF emissions (66% excl. LULUCF).7,8 A reduction of this magnitude is moderately greater than what is projected in 2030 under current policies (54%), but falls short of the 85% reduction that would be aligned with the 1.5°C temperature limit of the Paris Agreement.9

Illustrative 1.5°C pathways show emissions falling from current levels (332MtCO₂e/yr in 2018) to 142 MtCO₂e/yr by 2030. Ukraine’s new target instead allows emissions to remain roughly at current levels to 2030.

Long-term pathway

As part of Ukraine’s recently updated NDC, the country aims to achieve net zero GHG emissions in 2060, an improvement on the 2070 date outlined in its draft Green Energy Transition Until 2050. Our analysis shows that GHG emissions (excluding LULUCF) should be reduced by 92-97% below 1990 levels by 2050 or reach levels 30-74 MtCO₂e excluding LULUCF. [22] Remaining emissions will need to be balanced by negative emissions from the land sector or other carbon dioxide removal approaches.

However, recent trends in forestry emissions show that the sector is on the cusp of becoming a source of GHG emissions rather than a sink as it is currently. This process is mainly being driven by deforestation. It is critical that in its long-term strategy, Ukraine considers the role of the forestry sector in sequestering emissions (and therefore halting deforestation) to reach net zero GHG.12,13

In 1.5°C compatible scenarios, CO₂ emissions fall by 96% below 1990 levels by 2040, before dropping to zero by 2050. The remaining emissions in 2050 are primarily from the agriculture sector and industry processes, non-energy related emissions currently considered to be difficult to abate. Such remaining emissions may require the utilisation of negative emissions technologies in order to reach net zero, with bioenergy with carbon capture and storage constituting a significant share of total primary energy demand by 2040 in 1.5°C compatible pathways.

1 Government of Ukraine. 2020 Common Reporting Format (CRF) Table. (2020).

2 Prokip, A. The Energy Crisis in Ukraine: Predicted, But Still a Surprise. Focus Ukraine: A blog of the Kennan Institute. (2020).

3 Kinstellar. Ukraine introduces long-awaited changes to incentives for renewable energy. Lexology. (2020).

4 Mykhailenko, O. et al. Quarterly Monitoring Report on the Implementation of Ukraine’s Energy Action Plan. (2019).

5 Government of Ukraine. Ukraine’s energy strategy for the period up to 2035. (2017).

6 Climate Action Tracker. Ukraine | Climate Target Update Tracker.

7 Government of Ukraine. Intended Nationally Determined Contribution of Ukraine to a New Global Climate Agreement. (2015).

8 Government of Ukraine. Ukraine will intensify its participation in the global fight against climate change – President at the International Climate Ambition Summit. (2020).

9 Government of Ukraine. Ukraine. 2020 National Inventory Report (NIR). (2020).

10 Government of Ukraine. On approval of the National Transport Strategy of Ukraine for the period up to 2030. (2018).

11 Government of Ukraine. Green Energy Transition of Ukraine until 2050. (2020).

12 Climate Action Tracker. Ukraine | June 2020 Update. (2020).

13 Global Forest Watch. Ukraine Deforestation Rates & Statistics | GFW. (2020).

14 IEF. Support to the Government of Ukraine on updating its Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) -Report 3/ Modelling Report. (2021).

15 Ministry of Energy and Environmental Protection Ukraine. КОНЦЕПЦІЯ ЕНЕРГЕТИЧНОГО УКРАЇНИ (Ukraine Green Deal). (2020).

16 Government of Ukraine. Ukraine – Common Reporting Format (CRF) Table. (2021).

17 Breunig, J. A revision of Ukraine’s Carbon Tax. (2020).

18 GIZ. Successful climate mitigation through emissions trading. (2021).

19 Ministry of Energy and Environmental Protection Ukraine. Analytical Review of the Updated Nationally Determined Contribution of Ukraine to the Paris Agreement. (2021). Report_ Project_EN.PDF

20 Government of Ukraine. On approval of the National Transport Strategy of Ukraine for the period up to 2030. (2018).

21 UkraineInvest. Electric cars market growth: how Ukraine can benefit. (2020).

22 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.


Ukraineʼs total GHG emissions

excl. LULUCF MtCO₂e/yr

Displayed values
Reference year
Net zero GHG excl. LULUCF*
Reference year
1.5°C emissions level
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
Current policy projections
1.5°C emissions level
Ref. year 1990

Energy system transformation

Ukraine currently has modest targets in place for the power and transport sectors, setting a renewable energy target of at least 13% of total electricity generation by 2030.10 In its National Transport Strategy, Ukraine adopted target of achieving a 60% reduction in transport related emissions below 1990 levels by 2030.11

Both of these targets are lacking in ambition. Transport emissions were already 69% below 1990 levels in 2018 and the generation from renewables is forecasted to reach 17% of total power generation in 2030 under current policies.1,10

The share of total primary energy supply made up from renewable energy sources is forecast to reach 17% by 2030. This falls short of all but one 1.5°C compatible pathways for Ukraine, with some scenarios showing a 29% renewable share is possible.10


Ukraineʼs primary energy mix

petajoule per year

SSP1 Low CDR reliance
20192030204020504 000
SSP1 High CDR reliance
20192030204020504 000
Low Energy Demand
20192030204020504 000
High Energy Demand - Low CDR reliance
20192030204020504 000
  • Negative emissions technologies via BECCS
  • Unabated fossil
  • Renewables incl. Biomass
  • Nuclear and/or fossil with CCS

Ukraineʼs 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 Ukraine. 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
114 to 176
63 to 93
30 to 73
Relative to reference year in %
−88 to −81%
−93 to −90%
−97 to −92%
Total CO₂
73 to 128
4 to 58
2 to 38
Relative to reference year in %
−90 to −82%
−99 to −92%
−100 to −95%