Our analysis of 1.5°C compatible pathways for the DRC indicates that the country would need to reduce emissions by 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
- 1.5°C compatible pathways
- Middle of the 1.5°C compatible range
- Current policy projections
- 1.5°C emissions range
- Historical emissions
The Democratic Republic of the Congo’s (DRC) Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) from 2021 sets a greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions reduction target of 21% below business-as-usual (BAU) levels by 2030 (incl. LULUCF).32 The government has unconditionally committed to reducing emissions by 2%; the remaining 19% reduction is conditional on the country receiving adequate international support. The conditional target translates into a 92% increase in emissions compared to 2015 by 2030, or 275 MtCO₂e/yr (excl. LULUCF).33
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 Congo. Contribution Prévue Déterminée au niveau National (CPDN). (2017).
12 Democratic Republic of the Congo. Contribution déterminée au niveau national de la République Démocratique du Congo. (2017).
13 IEA. Africa Energy Outlook 2019. Preprint at (2019).
14 African Energy Commission (AFREC). AFREC Africa Energy Database. (2019).
15 Democratic Republic of Congo. Plan National Stratégique de Développement 2019-2023. (2019).
16 The World Bank. World Development Indicators database.(2019).
17 Ministère du Plan. Fiche technique sur l’énergie. (2021).
18 Kusakana, K. A Review of Energy in the Democratic Republic of Congo. in International Conference on Desalination and Renewable Energy (ICDRE) (2016).
19 Democratic Republic of Congo. Politique Nationale de l’Energie de la République Démocratique du Congo. (2022).
20 International Energy Agency (IEA). Data and statistics: Democratic Republic of the Congo, 2019. (2022).
21 CAFI. Sustainable Consumption and Partial Substitution of Wood Energy – DRCongo. CAFI web page 1–3 (2021).
22 CAFI. New Fund to develop sustainable energy in the DRC. CAFI web page 1–3 (2020).
23 IRENA. Democratic Republic of Congo – Energy profile. (2022).
24 FONAREDD. Fonds National REDD. FONAREDD web page 1–1 (2022).
25 IEA. Africa Energy Outlook 2019. (2019).
26 Democratic Republic of Congo. Troisième Communication Nationale. (2014).”:https://studylibfr.com/doc/4699335/troisi%C3%A8me-communication-nationale
27 The World Bank. La Banque mondiale approuve 750 millions de dollars pour soutenir la gouvernance, le transport et la connectivité numérique en République démocratique du Congo. The World Bank media web 1–4 (2022).
28 Democratic Republic of Congo. Plan Directeur des Transports urbains de la ville de Kinshasa. (2019).
29 FAO. (2020). République démocratique du Congo.
30 Deshmukh, R., Mileva, A., & Wu, G. C. (2017). Richesses Renouvelables : Comment le solaire et l‘éolien peuvent électrifier la RDC et l’Afrique du Sud.
31 TV5 Monde. (2022, May). RDC: Kinshasa veut multiplier sa production de pétrole | TV5MONDE – Informations.
32 The assessment was made based on Figure 2 provided in DRC‘s 2021 NDC document.
34 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.
35 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. To note that the emissions range by 2050 is very broad due to high uncertainties in the assessed models.
The land use, land-use change and forestry (LULUCF) sector contributed 75% of the country’s total emissions in 2018.1 (See the LULUCF assessment section). When excluding LULUCF, emissions are predominantly driven by the waste sector, accounting for most of methane emissions (95% in 2018).1
With adequate international support including finance, technology transfer and capacity enhancement, the DRC could reduce its emissions in line with a 1.5°C compatible pathway and close the gap between that pathway and the country’s fair share contribution to global climate action.
As of January, 2023, the DRC has not submitted its Long-Term Strategy to the UNFCCC. Our analysis of 1.5°C compatible pathways shows that the DRC would need its GHG emissions (excl. LULUCF) to fall in the range of 8% to 51% below 2015 levels by 2050.34 While the LULUCF sector has the largest emission reduction potential and should be prioritised (see LULUCF assessment section), the second most important sector to drive emissions reductions will be the waste sector. The waste sector is a major driver of CH₄ emissions, constituting the highest share (95% in 2018) of the country’s emissions, when excluding LULUCF 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 drive emissions reductions in the LULUCF sector by reducing deforestation and sustaining land-based sinks.
- The DRC’s power sector is currently quasi emissions-free due to the use of almost exclusively hydropower. This makes the DRC’s power sector already compatible with a 1.5°C compatible pathway. However, the government is planning to reinvigorate the country’s oil sector by promoting the exploitation of hydrocarbons in sedimentary basin. Such plans risk derailing the power sector’s low-carbon development.
- The growing demand for electricity in the DRC could be met by investing in diversified renewable energy projects, in particular decentralised solutions such as solar and wind. They would offer a low-cost option to overcome grid limitations and expand electricity access to the population in rural areas.
- Residential and commercial buildings are the biggest consumer of total final energy in the DRC, with a share of 91% in 2019. Around 96% of the sector’s energy mix was sourced from solid biomass which represents 93% of the energy used for cooking.
- To align with 1.5˚C compatible pathways, the DRC would need to speed up the electrification of the buildings sector. The share of electricity would need to grow to 18–23% in 2030, and to 57–81% in 2050. Since electricity in the DRC comes from renewable sources, electrification would enable the full decarbonisation of the buildings sector.
- The continued production and consumption of biomass in the buildings sector can undermine the LULUCF sector’s vital role as emissions sink for the DRC. The government should implement the measures that it outlines in its NDC to reduce deforestation and forest degradation. The Energy Programme launched in December 2018 is a positive step towards the decarbonisation of the buildings sector.
- The industry sector’s share of total final energy consumption in the DRC was about 4% in 2019. The share of electricity consumption in the sector has been increasing over the past years, reaching 56% of the total share in 2019.
- To be aligned with 1.5˚C compatible pathways, the DRC’s industry sector would need to remain close to zero emissions. The decarbonisation would be primarily driven by an increase in the share of decarbonised electricity in the sector’s energy supply from 56% in 2019 to 77–93% by 2050.
- In the coming years, the DRC’s industry sector will face an increasing energy demand due to the growing cobalt mining sector. Cobalt mining activities will drive an increase in energy demand, and emissions. Meeting this increase in energy demand through renewables will help build a low-carbon value chain for the global electric vehicle fleet.
- The DRC’s transport sector’s share of total final energy consumption in 2019 was 4%, and the sector emitted about 2 MtCO₂e. Diesel and motor gasoline are the most-consumed oil products in the country, with respective shares of 54% and 45%.
- Decarbonisation of the sector could be achieved through a rapid electrification, with the share of electricity growing from 0% in 2019 to 39–49% by 2050.
- The DRC has articulated some mitigation measures for the transport sector in its NDC and the third national communication to the UNFCCC. However, the extent to which these measures will be implemented and monitored to yield a concrete impact is unclear.