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Kazakhstan Ambition gap

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

1.5°C compatible pathways

In 2016, Kazakhstan adopted its first Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC). In 2020/21 countries were supposed to have submitted an updated NDC under the Paris Agreement, but Kazakhstan has not yet done so.

Its 2016 NDC aims to reduce GHG emissions by 25% below 1990 levels (including LULUCF) by 2030, conditional on international support.1 If LULUCF is excluded, Kazakhstan’s conditional mitigation target is equivalent to 293 MtCO₂e/yr by 2030, or 24% below 1990 levels by 2030.2

This target is not in line with a Paris Agreement compatible pathway, which would require a domestic target of 178 MtCO₂e/yr (excluding LULUCF) by 2030, equivalent to 54% below 1990 levels. Closing the gap between Kazakhstan’s target and 1.5°C compatible domestic emissions pathway should be made possible with and through international support, in line with the principle of equity that is a key part of the Paris Agreement.

Long term pathway

In 2020, President Tokayev announced Kazakhstan’s intention of achieving carbon neutrality by 2060 at the UN Climate Ambition Summit. In September 2021, the government published its Doctrine (Strategy) to Achieve Carbon Neutrality Until 2060.3 While several elements of the target can be improved, the Doctrine does include clear economy-wide and sectoral emissions pathways.2

Our analysis of 1.5°C compatible pathways shows that Kazakhstan would need to reach a greenhouse gas emissions level of 51 MtCO₂e/yr by 2050 (excluding LULUCF). This is equivalent to emissions reductions of 87% below 1990 levels by 2050. Similarly, CO₂ emissions would need to reach 18 MtCO₂/yr, equivalent to 94% below 1990 levels by 2050 (excluding LULUCF). Kazakhstan’s LULUCF sector is currently a net sink, but a relatively minor one compared to national emissions, so unless this increases in magnitude the inclusion of LULUCF is not expected to notably impact when net zero greenhouse gas or CO₂ emissions would need to be achieved.

As energy emissions are currently responsible for about 80% of Kazakhstan’s total GHG emissions, moving away from fossil fuels will be the primary driver to achieve the emissions reductions necessary out to 2050. According to the Doctrine, Kazakhstan needs to nearly phase out emissions from fuel consumption in the heat and electricity sectors by midcentury to achieve its carbon neutrality target, reducing these emissions by about 99% from 2017 to 2050.3 For comparison, our analysis finds that the electricity sector is decarbonised by the early 2040s in 1.5°C pathways.

1 Republic of Kazakhstan. Intended Nationally Determined Contribution – Submission of the Republic of Kazakhstan. 2016.

2 Climate Action Tracker. Kazakhstan. September 2022 update. Climate Action Tracker. 2022.

3 Government of the Republic of Kazakhstan. Doctrine (strategy) of achieving carbon neutrality of the Republic of Kazakhstan until 2060. 2021.

4 Assel Satubaldina. Tokayev Announces Kazakhstan’s Pledge to Reach Carbon Neutrality by 2060. The Astana Times. 2020.

5 Republic of Kazakhstan. Fourth Biennial Report of the Republic of Kazakhstan to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change. 2019.

6 Official Information Source of the Prime Minister of the Republic of Kazakhstan. Kazakhstan presents plans to achieve carbon neutrality. 2022.

7 IEA & EU4Energy. Clean Household Energy Consumption in Kazakhstan: A Roadmap. 2020.

8 IEA. Kazakhstan 2022 Energy Sector Review. 2022.

9 International Carbon Action Partnership. Kazakhstan Emissions Trading System. 2022.

10 International Transport Forum. Enhancing Connectivity and Freight in Central Asia. 2019.

11 Tanzila Khan, Sumati Kohli, Zifei Yang & Josh Miller. Zero-emission vehicle deployment: Europe, Middle East, and Central & South Asia. 2022..

12 Gütschow, J., Günther, A. & Pflüger, M. The PRIMAP-hist national historical emissions time series v2.3 (1750-2019). Preprint at (2021).

13 President of the Republic of Kazakhstan. Concept for transition of the Republic of Kazakhstan to Green Economy. Preprint at (2013).

14 Pedro Plowman. Kazakhstan has launched a massive project to plant one million trees every day until 2026. Medium. 2020.

15 Lloyds Bank. The economic context of Kazakhstan. 2022.

16 CIA. The World Factbook: Kazakhstan. 2023.


Kazakhstanʼs 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
Current policy projections
NDC (conditional)
1.5°C emissions level
Ref. year 1990

Energy system transformation

Across analysed 1.5°C compatible pathways, Kazakhstan’s energy mix shifts away from its reliance on fossil fuels, with unabated fossil fuels dropping from 99% of the energy mix in 2019 to 75-87% by 2030 and 8-35% by mid-century.

Renewable energy including biomass would need to ramp up from 1% of the energy mix in 2019 to 10-19% by 2030 and 13-87% by 2050. Pathways that show lower deployment of renewables would require higher penetration of nuclear and/or fossil with carbon capture and storage (CCS); however, CCS has high upfront investment costs, has so far failed to achieve commercial viability, and risks locking Kazakhstan into stranded assets.

In Kazakhstan’s Doctrine to Achieve Carbon Neutrality Until 2060, the carbon neutrality scenario shows coal in the primary energy mix declining from about half in 2017 to one quarter in 2030 and only 1% in 2050, being largely replaced with renewables.3 However, the share of fossil gas also increases in this scenario, peaking in 2040 at about 40% of the energy mix before declining. This is not consistent with analysed 1.5°C pathways; which show a decline in gas use over the next few decades, unless CCS is deployed at very high levels – with associated costs and carbon lock-in risks.


Kazakhstanʼs primary energy mix

petajoule per year

SSP1 Low CDR reliance
20192030204020502 0003 000
SSP1 High CDR reliance
20192030204020502 0003 000
Low energy demand
20192030204020502 0003 000
High energy demand - Low CDR reliance
20192030204020502 0003 000
  • Renewables incl. biomass
  • Unabated fossil
  • Nuclear and/or fossil with CCS
  • Negative emissions technologies via BECCS

Kazakhstanʼs 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 Kazakhstan. 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
145 to 234
56 to 104
37 to 67
Relative to reference year in %
−62 to −39%
−85 to −73%
−91 to −83%
Total CO₂
106 to 197
4 to 76
2 to 45
Relative to reference year in %
−62 to −30%
−98 to −73%
−99 to −84%