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Ghana Ambition gap

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

1.5°C compatible pathways

In its updated 2021 NDC, Ghana has committed to an unconditional target of an absolute emissions reduction of 24.6 MtCO₂e by 2030 (incl. LULUCF), and a conditional target of reducing 64 MtCO₂e (incl. LULUCF) by 2030.7 Excluding LULUCF, the conditional target translates to 2030 emissions levels of around 42 MtCO₂e/yr or an increase in emissions of 32% above 2015 levels, less ambitious than its previous NDC.7,8,10,16

With international support, Ghana could reduce its domestic emissions pathway and close the gap between its fair share level and a 1.5°C aligned domestic emissions level. Paris Agreement compatible pathways show emissions levels of 19-27 MtCO₂e/yr by 2030 or a reduction of 14-39% below 2015 levels by 2030, excluding LULUCF emissions. Ghana’s NDC target will need to be strengthened in order to align with 1.5°C compatible pathways.

Long term pathway

To date, Ghana has not articulated a long-term strategy, though in September 2022, Vice President Bawumia announced Ghana was committed to achieving net-zero carbon emissions by 2070.2,3 1.5°C compatible pathways indicate that Ghana should emit no more than 20 MtCO₂e/yr by 2050 (excl. LULUCF) – a GHG emissions reduction of 37% below 2015 levels.

1.5°C compatible pathways indicate that the energy sector would need to be the first to fully decarbonise by 2050 in some scenarios. Remaining GHG emissions will largely be from the agriculture sector, alongside smaller, but nonetheless significant, contributions from the waste and industrial processes sectors.

Over the long-term, efforts to reduce LULUCF emissions, including expanding and accelerating Ghana’s commitments to limit deforestation and afforest degraded lands, may create effective national carbon sinks, which can be driven by reducing traditional biomass consumption.11

1 Environmental Protection Agency of Ghana. Ghana’s Fourth National Greenhouse Gas Inventory Report to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. 2019.

2 Xinhua. Ghana committed to achieving net-zero carbon emission by 2070: VP. (2022).

3 Xinhua. Ghana committed to achieving net-zero carbon emission by 2070 – Bawumia. News Ghana (2022).

4 Ministry of Petroleum, Government of Ghana. Gas Master Plan Developed By Ministry of Petroleum. 2016.

5 National Development Planning Commission. National Medium-Term Development Policy Framework 2022-2025. 2021.

6 Government of Ghana. Ghana’s Second Biennial Update Report. 2018.

7 Environmental Protection Agency and the Ministry of Environment, S. T. and I. Updated Nationally Determined Contribution under the Paris Agreement (2020 – 2030). 2021.

8 International Energy Agency. Ghana: Data Browser. International Energy Agency. 2022.

9 African Development Bank. Climate Change Profile – Ghana. 2018.

10 Environmental Protection Agency. Ghana’s Fourth National Communication to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. 2020.

11 Ministry of Energy, Government of Ghana. Ghana Renewable Energy Master Plan. 2019. Preprint at

12 Environmental Protection Agency. Ghana’s Third Biennial Update Report to United Nations Climate Change. 2021.

13 Republic of Ghana. Drive Electric Initiative. 2019.

14 The Climate Technology Centre and Network (CTCN). CTCN in Ghana: Developing a national policy on e-mobility. The Climate Technology Centre and Network (CTCN). 2020.

15 Values expressed in Global Warming Potentials from the Fourth Assessment Report (AR4).

16 See calculations and assumptions here

17 The NDC articulates that emissions from selected extractive and manufacturing industries have not been included. Justification for this can be found on Page 14 of Ghana’s updated NDC.


Ghanaʼs 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 emissions levels
NDC (conditional)
1.5°C emissions level
Ref. year 2015

Energy system transformation

A 1.5°C compatible pathway would see the share of fossil fuels in Ghana’s primary energy mix decline from over 50% in 2019 to around 10% in 2040, and ultimately to less than 5% by 2050. Transportation and electricity production account for the largest shares of sectoral emissions, and therefore hold the greatest potential for achieving significant decarbonisation.9,11

This is possible with the rapid and extensive uptake of renewables to 44-89% of the energy mix by 2040, and close to 100% by 2050. While almost half of Ghana’s energy mix was renewable in 2019, the vast majority of this is traditional biomass such as wood and charcoal, which have negative health and sustainability implications. Ghana’s uptake of renewable energy would need to facilitate a transition from traditional biofuels to electrification at the household level.9 Such extensive transformation would likely require some level of technical and financial support to facilitate.

Lower penetration of renewables would require the development of carbon dioxide removal approaches (CDRs) such as land sinks or bioenergy with carbon capture and storage (BECCS) to balance residual emissions. Some models show up to 18% of the energy mix sourced from BECCS and other zero carbon technologies between 2040-2050.

These technologies are unlikely to be implemented in the country, as they are not yet available and would require high up-front costs, which could be avoided by implementing stringent policies to reduce land sector emissions. The LULUCF sector could subsequently become a carbon sink and contribute further to negative emissions.


Ghanaʼs primary energy mix

petajoule per year

SSP1 Low CDR reliance
20192030204020501 0001 500
SSP1 High CDR reliance
20192030204020501 0001 500
Low energy demand
20192030204020501 0001 500
High energy demand - Low CDR reliance
20192030204020501 0001 500
  • Renewables incl. biomass
  • Unabated fossil
  • Nuclear and/or fossil with CCS
  • Negative emissions technologies via BECCS

Ghanaʼs 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 Ghana. 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
19 to 27
16 to 22
12 to 20
Relative to reference year in %
−39 to −14%
−51 to −30%
−62 to −37%
Total CO₂
8 to 11
2 to 8
−1 to 4
2047 to 2066
Relative to reference year in %
−38 to −14%
−85 to −42%
−107 to −67%