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Ethiopia Ambition gap

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

1.5°C compatible pathways

Ethiopia’s conditional NDC translates into emissions of 213 MtCO₂e/yr by 2030 when excluding LULUCF emissions, or 75% above 2015 levels.1 With international support, Ethiopia will be able to implement its domestic emissions pathway and close the gap between its fair share level and domestic emissions level. Paris compatible pathways show emissions reductions of 10-37% below 2015 levels or 76-110 MtCO₂e/yr by 2030 excluding LULUCF.

Ethiopia has committed to funding 20% of its mitigation target in its NDC and to increase its ambition in subsequent years through various sectors as it seeks to align all sectors to climate resilience.7

Long term pathway

Ethiopia has indicated its goal to become ‘carbon neutral’ but has not yet announced a net zero CO₂ target, nor provided clarity on its scope. Ethiopia is in the process of developing a long-term strategy.6

A 1.5°C compatible pathway would require GHG emissions excluding LULUCF to reduce by 22% (10-37%) below 2015 levels by 2050.21 This requires a focus on decarbonising major emitting sectors namely agriculture and energy, and stringent policies in the land sector, to reduce emissions and further become a sink, through the halting of deforestation.

1 Climate Action Tracker. Ethiopia | Climate Action Target Update Tracker. (2020).

2 GERD Coordination Office. Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD). (2020).

3 Government of Ethiopia. Climate-Resilient Green Economy Strategy. (2011).

4 Government of Ethiopia. Ethiopia’s Climate Resilient Green Economy National Adaptation Plan. (2019).

5 IEA. Ethiopia: Key Energy Statistics. (2018).

6 Climate Action Tracker. Ethiopia | Climate Action Target Update Tracker. (2020).

7 Government of Ethiopia. Summary of Ethiopia’s Updated Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC). (2020).

8 Government of Ethiopia. The Second Growth and Transformation Plan (GTP II) Midterm Review Report. (2018).

9 Government of Ethiopia. Draft National Energy Policy (March 2021). (Ministry of Water, Irrigation and Energy, 2021).

10 World Nuclear News. Ethiopia, Russia extend cooperation in nuclear energy. Nuclear Policies. (2019).

11 Government of Ethiopia. Ethiopia 2030: The Pathway to Prosperity Ten Years Perspective Development Plan (2021-2030). (2020).

12 Government of Ethiopia. Growth and Transformation Plan II (GTP II). (2016).

13 National Green Development. Stats – National Green Development. (2021).

14 Beyene, G. E., Kumie, A., Edwards, R. & Troncoso, K. Opportunities for transition to clean household energy in Ethiopia Application of the WHO Household Energy Assessment Rapid Tool (HEART). (2018).

15 N Scott, T Jones & S Batchelor. Ethiopia; Cooking transitions: An analysis of Multi-Tier Framework Data for insights into transitions to modern energy cooking. (2020).

16 Ethiopian Electric Power. Power Generation. (2020).

17 Government of Ethiopia. Ethiopia’s Climate Resilient Green Economy National Adaptation Plan. (2019).

18 IEA. Ethiopia coal demand and production by scenario, 2010-2040. (2020).

19 IPCC. Climate Change 2007: Mitigation of Climate Change. Contribution of Working Group III to the Fourth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. (2007).

20 Global Energy Monitor. Global Coal Plant Tracker Database (July). Global Energy Monitor. (2020).

21 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.

22 NDC indicates that forestry covers land and managed soils.

23 For example, it is difficult to prepare Injera, Ethiopia’s staple on a gas or electric cooker.

24 A review of GTPII is still underway. This will shed light on the current situation after the end of the GTP II in 2020 and provide a basis for GTPIII or a successor framework.


Ethiopiaʼs total GHG emissions

excl. LULUCF MtCO₂e/yr

Displayed values
Reference year
Reference year
1.5°C emissions level
NDC (conditional)
NDC (unconditional)
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
NDC (conditional)
1.5°C emissions level
Ref. year 2015

Energy system transformation

Although Ethiopia relies on a high amount of renewable energy (around 90% of its total primary energy consumption), close to 88% in 2017 comes from traditional biomass (the burning of charcoal and firewood) mostly used for cooking.5,14 While the country will need to keep up its share of renewables, there will need to be a shift away from biomass to other conventional renewables sources such as solar, wind and hydro. Reducing biomass as a source of energy will steer emissions reductions in the LULUCF sector, by reducing deforestation.3

Ethiopia’s Climate Resilient Green Economy initiative (CRGE) states that the country aims to increase electricity supply at a rate of 14% per annum mainly from hydropower, geothermal and wind with ‘virtually zero GHG emissions’.3 With a current installed capacity of 4244 MW, of which over 95% (4140 MW) is renewable (hydro, wind and geothermal), this looks like a realistic target.1,6,16

Its draft energy policy includes increased electrification as well as grid reliability, increased access to modern cooking technologies and promotion of renewables.1,9,10,19 Due to high initial costs, limited access, monthly billing and low reliability for electricity combined with cultural factors,23 electric cooking, LPG uptake, biogas, and improved biofuel stoves uptake has been slow in comparison to kerosene, charcoal and firewood.14,15

While Ethiopia’s Growth and Transformation Plan II (GTP II) Ethiopia had planned to source more than 90% of its increased capacity in energy production from renewables by 2020 the country still sees coal and nuclear in its future as well as continued importation of fossil fuels. This risks the creation of high-cost stranded assets, despite huge renewable energy potential estimated at >80 TWh in 2030.3,12 Electricity generation reached 44% and power 66% of their respective targets by 2017, and access to electricity had reached 57% coverage in 2017 whereas the country targets 90% by 2020.2,8,16,24


Ethiopiaʼs 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
  • Renewables incl. biomass
  • Unabated fossil
  • Nuclear and/or fossil with CCS
  • Negative emissions technologies via BECCS

Ethiopiaʼs 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 Ethiopia. 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
92 to 126
80 to 105
70 to 107
Relative to reference year in %
−39 to −17%
−47 to −31%
−54 to −29%
Total CO₂
16 to 22
6 to 17
0 to 13
Relative to reference year in %
−15 to 21%
−69 to −11%
−98 to −28%