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Democratic Republic of the Congo In brief

What is Democratic Republic of the Congoʼs pathway to limit global warming to 1.5°C?

Democratic Republic of the Congo
How to citeLast update: August 2022

Economy wide

In contrast to DRC’s conditional NDC target, when excluding LULUCF, 1.5°C compatible pathway indicates that the DRC’s domestic emissions reductions would need to be 14% below 2015 levels which translates to 124 MtCO₂e/yr (excl. LULUCF) by 2030.

Democratic Republic of the Congoʼs total GHG emissions

excl. LULUCF MtCO₂e/yr

Displayed values
Reference year
Reference year
1.5°C emissions level
NDC (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 NDC

Democratic Republic of the Congo’s (DRC) 2021 Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) targets a GHG emissions reduction of 21% below business-as-usual (BAU) levels by 2030 (incl. LULUCF) which is equivalent to a more than 50% increase above 2015 levels.17 The target is composed of a 19% conditional and 2% unconditional target. The conditional target translates into emissions reduction of 92% above 2015 by 2030, or 275 MtCO₂e/yr (excl. LULUCF).18

1 Democratic Republic of the Congo. Contribution Déterminée à l’échelle Nationale révisée. (2021).

2 African Development Bank. National Climate Change Profile: Democratic Republic of the Congo. (2018).

3 Ministère de l’Environnement et Développement Durable. Troisième Communication Nationale de la République Démocratique du Congo à la Convention Cadre sur le Changement Climatique. (2015).

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

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

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

7 Observatory of Economic Complexity (OEC). Democratic Republic of the Congo. (2019).

8 International Energy Agency (IEA). Data and statistics: Democratic Republic of the Congo, 2018. (2022).

9 Radio France Internationale. RDC: l’immense enjeu et problème de l’accès à l’électricité. (2019).

10 World Bank. State and Trends of Carbon Pricing 2019. State and Trends of Carbon Pricing 2019 (2019). doi:10.1596/978-1-4648-1435-8.

11 Democratic Republic of the Congo. Contribution déterminée au niveau national de la République Démocratique du Congo. (2017).

12 IEA. Africa Energy Outlook 2019. (2019).

13 African Energy Commission (AFREC). AFREC Africa Energy Database. (2019).

14 The World Bank. World Development Indicators database. (2019).

15 Ministère du Plan. Fiche technique sur l’énergie. (2021).

16 Kusakana, K. A Review of Energy in the Democratic Republic of Congo. in International Conference on Desalination and Renewable Energy (ICDRE) (2016).

17 The assessment was made based on Figure 2 provided in DRC‘s 2021 NDC document.

18 See assumptions at

19 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.

Sectoral emissions

The land use and forestry sector (LULUCF) is important for the DRC, contributing 75% of the country’s total emissions in 2018.1 When excluding LULUCF, emissions are predominantly driven by methane (95% in 2018) mostly due to the waste sector.1 When including LULUCF, the waste sector contributes 23% to total emission.1 The largest share of CO₂ emissions comes from the LULUCF sector, driven mainly by deforestation. Energy is a minor source of emissions in the country, contributing 1% to total emissions when including LULUCF.1

Fair share

With international support the DRC will be able to implement a 1.5°C compatible domestic emissions pathway and close the gap between the country’s fair share level and modelled domestic emissions level.

2050 Ambition

As of January 2022, the DRC has not submitted its Long-Term Strategy. Illustrative 1.5°C compatible pathways show that the DRC will need its GHG emissions (excl. LULUCF) to fall in the range of 9% to 51% below 2015 levels by 2050.19 When LULUCF emissions are excluded, these emissions reductions will mostly be driven by efforts in the waste sector, the major driver of CH₄ emissions, constituting the highest share (95% in 2018) of the country’s emissions.

Sectoral emissions

The DRC has the world’s second-largest rainforest which could sequester most of the country’s carbon emissions. For example, shifting away from traditional biomass use in primary energy could steer emissions reductions in the LULUCF sector by reducing deforestation and sustaining land-based sinks.



  • The DRC’s power sector is currently at zero emissions due to the use of renewable energy, almost exclusively hydropower, contributing almost 100% of the national power mix. This makes the DRC’s power sector already in line with 1.5°C compatible pathway.
  • The growing demand for electricity could be met by investing in diversified renewables projects, in particular decentralised renewable energy solutions using solar, wind, geothermal or hydro which offer a low-cost option to overcome grid limitations and expand electricity access to the population in rural areas.
  • Fossil fuels – mostly oil – play a negligible role in the DRC’s power mix. Investing in gas-to-power plans would lock in a carbon intensive pathway and risk stranded assets.
  • The mining sector is an important part of the DRC’s economy. The government’s strategic development plan of the sector anticipates an intensification of activities as demand for cobalt is expected to soar with the growing demand for renewable energy technologies. It will be key for the country to explore low and zero carbon operations to avoid increasing carbon intensity. This is likely to become an increasing requirement, as importers further up the supply chain will increasingly require low carbon products for critical minerals for decarbonisation.
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