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Cameroon Ambition gap

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

1.5°C compatible pathways

Cameroon updated its NDC in November 2021. While the new target (35% emissions reduction below BAU by 2030) appears to be stronger than the previous one (32% emissions reduction below BAU by 2030), the estimated level of emissions reached in 2030 is higher in the updated NDC mostly due to a revised BAU. This would lead to an increase in emissions of 120% above 2010 levels and an emissions level of 77 MtCO₂e/yr by 2030. The target covers an unconditional component (-12% below BAU) and a conditional component of – 23% below BAU by 2030. When excluding LULUCF emissions, Cameroon’s conditional NDC translates into emissions increase of 175% above 2010 by 2030, or around 96 MtCO₂e/yr).15

The updated NDC includes mitigation actions for the agriculture, LULUCF, energy and waste sectors. Implementation of Cameroon’s NDC is conditional on financial support, with an estimated cost of 57.640 million USD of which 25.78466 million USD would be needed for mitigation measures.

The implementation of Cameroon’s 1.5°C compatible domestic emissions pathway could be made possible with and through international support to close the gap between its fair share level and domestic emissions level. 1.5°C compatible pathways indicate that Cameroon’s domestic emissions reductions would need to be 40% below 2015 levels or 24 MtCO₂e/yr (excl. LULUCF) by 2030.

Long term pathway

As of April 2022, Cameroon has not submitted its Long-Term Strategy. 1.5°C pathway compatible pathways indicate that Cameroon’s GHG emissions (excl. LULUCF) need to fall to between 46% and 65% below 2015 levels by 2050.16 When excluding LULUCF, these emissions reductions will be mostly driven by efforts in the energy and agriculture sectors, the major drivers of CH₄ emissions, constituting a total of 83% (excl. LULUCF) of the country’s emissions in 2017. Residual emissions from harder to abate sectors such as agriculture will need to be balanced by carbon dioxide removal approaches.

As outlined in its 2021 NDC, Cameroon plans to reduce its emissions by 2030 mainly through the LULUCF sector (45.9% of the total reduction or 19378.63 GgCO₂eq) followed by the energy sector (31.6% of the total reduction or 13369.85 GgCO₂eq). Deforestation is a major issue for Cameroon with an estimated net annual deforestation rate of 0.6% coupled with a low reforestation rate (0.1%).1 Cameroon relies on its immense forest cover (over 40% in 2019) to remain a net carbon sink.11 A continued or accelerated rate of deforestation and degradation would have serious negative implications for the Cameroon’s reliance on its forest as a carbon sink.

1 République du Cameroun. Contribution déterminée au niveau national – Actualisée (CDN). 58 (2021).

2 World Bank Group. World Development Indicators: Cameroon. (2022).

3 African Development Bank (AfDB). Country priority plan and diagnostic of the electricity sector: Cameroon. (2021).

4 African Energy Commission (AFREC). AFREC Africa Energy Balances 2019. (2019).

5 Observatory of Economic Complexity (OEC). OEC Cameroon country page. (2019).

6 International Energy Agency (IEA). Data and statistics: Cameroon. (2022).

7 U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA). Natural gas reserves. (2021).

8 African Energy Commission (AFREC). Africa Energy Efficiency for the Residential Sector 2019. (2019).

9 United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP). Atlas of Africa Energy Resource. (2017).

10 International Hydropower Association. Hydropower Status Report: Sector Trends and Insights. (2019).

11 Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO). Cameroon. (2019).

12 , R. E. and E. E. P. Policy and Regulation Overview by Country: Cameroon. (2012).

13 Ministère de l’Eau et de l’Énergie. Plan Directeur d’Electrification Rurale du Cameroun (PDER). (2016).

14 Cousins, S. The 75 per cent problem: aluminium’s carbon footprint..

15 See assumptions here.

16 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.


Cameroonʼs total GHG emissions

excl. LULUCF MtCO₂e/yr

Displayed values
Reference year
Reference year
1.5°C emissions level
NDC (combined unconditional + conditional)
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
NDC (combined unconditional + conditional)
1.5°C emissions level
Ref. year 2010

Energy system transformation

Cameroon’s growing energy sector, which accounted for almost half of all of its emissions in 2017 when excluding the LULUCF emissions, is dominated by biofuels and waste which accounted for 67% of the total primary energy supply (TPES) in 2017.4 Following biofuels and waste, crude oil accounted for 18% of TPES in 2017.4 The remaining 15% of TPES is distributed evenly between oil products (6%), natural gas (5%), and hydropower (4%). Other renewable energy sources do not amount to even 1%.

Though Cameroon’s largest exported product is crude petroleum, its crude oil production has been on a declining trend as its reserves are depleted.5,6 Conversely, its natural gas production has been increasing. It has 4.77 trillion cubic feet of proven natural gas reserves ranking 47th globally in terms of volumes of reserves.7

The residential sector, in 2017, accounted for 72% of Cameroon’s final energy consumption followed by the transport sector at 17%, the industry sector at 6%, and the commercial and public service sector at 3%.4 Traditional biomass (firewood and charcoal) constituted 91% of the residential sector’s final energy consumption in 2017.8 Palm oil for biodiesel has also been considered a viable option.9 The use of traditional biomass and palm oil , however, contributes to deforestation in Cameroon. Increasing electrification rate of end-use sectors and access to clean cooking options would significantly curb household biomass combustion, and reduce fossil fuel usage and indoor air pollution.

Climate change has already significantly impacted Cameroon’s traditional patterns of water availability which has led to power shortages as hydropower accounts for over half (62% in 2019) of the country’s electricity production.3,6 The amount of hydropower in the mix is expected to increase to 75% by 2023.3 Cameroon’s 2021 NDC target of increasing the share of renewables, excluding large hydro, in its electricity mix to 25% by 2035 is a step in the right direction towards diversification of the power mix.


Cameroonʼs primary energy mix

petajoule per year

SSP1 Low CDR reliance
20192030204020501 000
SSP1 High CDR reliance
20192030204020501 000
Low energy demand
20192030204020501 000
High energy demand - Low CDR reliance
20192030204020501 000
  • Negative emissions technologies via BECCS
  • Unabated fossil
  • Nuclear and/or fossil with CCS
  • Renewables incl. biomass

Cameroonʼs 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 Cameroon. 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
incl. BECCS excl. LULUCF and novel CDR
Total GHG
Megatonnes CO₂ equivalent per year
20 to 30
17 to 25
14 to 21
Relative to reference year in %
−41 to −11%
−51 to −27%
−60 to −37%
Total CO₂
7 to 9
2 to 6
0 to 5
Relative to reference year in %
−24 to 6%
−75 to −27%
−100 to −48%