Zimbabwe’s First Biennial Update Report published in 2020 shows that the AFOLU sector was the country’s largest source of GHG emissions (62%) with LULUCF emissions making up the lion’s share (50% of total GHG emissions).5 While the country also benefits from a large carbon sink, the net reported emissions remained positive in 2017. This is mostly driven by deforestation due to shifting to agriculture as well as forest harvesting.5,16 In agriculture, cattle and other livestock are the main driver of emissions.
Emissions from the energy sector contribute 35% to total GHG emissions, with electricity production and transport accounting for most of it (19% and 8% respectively). Emissions from the IPPU and waste sectors were very small in comparison (1.9% and 1.5% of total GHG emissions).5
Since 1990, the proportion of GHG emissions from the energy sector has remained fairly stable, while AFOLU emissions have fluctuated more noticeably – driven by biomass burning on forested land due to droughts and economic necessity.2,5 Zimbabwe’s forestry resources cover approximately 46% of the total land area (179,748 km²) so addressing these emissions is essential to mitigation.2
The National Development Strategy (NDS1), 2021-2025, aims to increase electricity and coal supply to the iron and steel sectors, both of which will lead to an upward trajectory in emissions under a business-as-usual (BAU) scenario.6
1 Ministry of Environment Climate Tourism and Hospitality Industry. Long-term Low Greenhouse Gas Emission Development Strategy (2020-2050). (2019).
2 Republic of Zimbabwe. Revised Nationally Determined Contribution. (2021).
3 Zimbabwe Power Company. Hwange Power Station – Zimbabwe Power Company.
4 Ministry of Environment Water and Climate. Zimbabwe’s Third National Communication to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. (2016).
5 Ministry of Environment Climate Tourism and Hospitality Industry. Zimbabwe’s First Biennial Update Report to the UNFCCC. (2020).
6 Ministry of Finance and Economic Development. National Development Strategy 1 (NDS1) 2021-2025. (2019).
7 UNDP. Bright days ahead as the National Energy Policy is unveiled in Zimbabwe. (2012).
8 Murwira, S. “No electricity for cooking”: Droughts in Zimbabwe cut the lights in poor households – climatetracker. Climate Tracker (2021).
9 Ministry of Energy and Power Development. National Renewable Energy Policy. (Ministry of Energy and Power Development, 2019).
10 South Africa’s Eskom supplies Zimbabwe with 400 megawatts of power | Africanews.
11 Ministry of Energy and Power Development. National Renewable Energy Policy. vol. 1 (2019).
12 WorldBank. Access to electricity (% of population) – Zimbabwe | Data. (2021).
13 IEA. Zimbabwe Country Profile. IEA – Countries & Regions. (2022).
14 See assumptions for the NDC quantification here: https://1p5ndc-pathways.climateanalytics.org/methodology/#zwe-ndc
15 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.
Zimbabweʼs current GHG emissions
- Industry (energy use)
- Fugitive emissions
- Industry (processes)
Sectors by gas
A large part of energy use in Zimbabwe is biomass-generated (over 65% in 2017) mostly used in household cooking as well as in industry. According to the 2021-2025 NDS110, Zimbabwe plans to increase electricity access from 44 to 54% by 2025 to spur a shift to electric cooking and address emissions in this sector. This has additional benefits for health and socio-economic development including clean jobs as well as improved air quality.5 In 2017, biofuels and waste together accounted for 69% of the energy used, followed by coal (16%), oil (12%) and hydro (4%). Zimbabwe imports almost all of the petroleum products it needs (diesel, gasoline, kerosene, LPG, etc.), mostly used in the transport sector.5
Between 2000 and 2017, the make-up of the energy mix changed noticeably. The share of renewable energy sources (including solar and biofuels) in the primary energy mix and waste increased from 65% to 80%, while coal dropped from 14% to 3%. Only oil maintained a more or less steady contribution to the energy mix of around 11%.5
Growth of the energy sector has been stalled or undermined by poor maintenance, lack of investment (both State and foreign), an import debt burden and existing customers’ failure/inability to pay Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority (ZESA).7
Targets and commitments
Conditional NDC Target:
- 40% reduction in economy-wide GHG emissions per capita compared to BAU by 2030.2
- Zimbabwe’s NDC is fully conditional.
- This translates in 57% above 2015 levels by 2030, excluding LULUCF.
- A Carbon Tax on fossil fuel use has been in place since 2016. As of 2019, the collected carbon tax from diesel and gasoline use is estimated at USD 12.24/tCO₂e.1
- In 2016, a tobacco tax was also introduced to support sustainable afforestation efforts.
- Zimbabwe has a Long-term Low Greenhouse Gas Emission Development Strategy.5
Greenhouse gas coverageCO₂CH₄HFCsN₂O
- The updated NDC mentions universal access to cleaner energy by 2030. At present, 44% of the population has access to electricity at national level. This goal includes setting up mini-grids, increasing energy efficiency, investing in biodiesel development, a transport fuel economy policy (2025-2030) and developing public transport.5
- 61% (25.35 MtCO₂e) by 2030 below BAU (AFOLU sector).
- Reduction of burned area by 500,000 ha.
- 61% (25.35 MtCO₂e) by 2030 below BAU (AFOLU sector).
- Plan to increase the area from 9.9 m ha to 10.4 m ha by 2025.
- The National Renewable Energy Policy targets an increase in generation from renewables to over 26% of the overall generation by 2030.9
- No target is indicated but transport is mentioned under the energy sector. Measures include the implementation of mass transit options.
- No target is indicated.
- 10.7% (0.45 MtCO₂e) reduction by 2030 below BAU.