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Myanmar Ambition gap

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

1.5°C compatible pathways

Myanmar’s updated NDC, submitted to the UNFCCC in July 2021, includes a cumulative emission reductions target, of 121 MtCO₂e (unconditional) and 158 MtCO₂e (conditional) over the period 2021-2030 (cumulative), below BAU when excluding LULUCF.27 Compared to 2015 levels, this target translates to a 22% (unconditional) to 13% (conditional) increase in emissions, excl. LULUCF, above 2015 levels by 2030.28 The planned measures will primarily come from the power sector and are benchmarked against a BAU scenario.1

Under 1.5°C compatible emissions pathways, Myanmar’s GHG emissions, excl. LULUCF would need to decrease by 28-49% from 2015 levels by 2030. In absolute terms, this would be a reduction from 60 MtCO₂e/yr in 2015 to between 31-43 MtCO₂e/yr in 2030 (excluding LULUCF). It would require that the most rapid rate of emissions reduction occur in the decade up to 2030. Myanmar would however need international support to implement mitigation measures that would close the gap between its fair share and its 1.5°C compatible domestic emissions pathway.

The range of 1.5°C compatible pathways suggest a cumulative emissions reduction, excluding LULUCF, between 292-385 MtCO₂e from the NDC BAU scenario would be required between 2021 and 2030. Myanmar’s NDC targets would see cumulative non-LULUCF emissions reductions of 121 MtCO₂e (unconditional) or 158 MtCO₂e (conditional) during this time period. This is an ambition gap of at least 135 MtCO₂e.34

Long term pathway

As of May 2022, Myanmar has not yet submitted a long-term strategy to the Paris Agreement. Under analysed 1.5°C compatible pathways, the country could see GHG emissions reductions, excl. LULUCF, of around 71% below 2015 levels by 2050.

1.5°C compatible pathways are characterised by an immediate decline in the use of fossil fuels, with primary energy from unabated coal, oil, and gas halving by the 2030s, and halving again by 2050.37 While some models see a significant development of Bioenergy with Carbon Capture and Storage (BECCS), these might be overestimating the potential of this costly and not yet proven technology.29

Myanmar’s NDC assumes that emissions from the LULUCF sector will follow the estimated average annual levels during the period 2005-2015 for the next two decades. By 2030, LULUCF emissions decline by 49% and 94%, relative to BAU, and go negative by 2037 and 2031, under the unconditional and conditional scenarios respectively. It should be noted however that the FAO has estimated the country’s LULUCF emissions to be more than double the country’s reported LULUCF emissions in 2019.

Myanmar’s agricultural sector has historically been the largest source of non-LULUCF GHG emissions. The 1.5°C pathways forecast that this will remain the case in 2050, even though the pathways see emissions from this sector decreasing by 30-70% below 2015 levels.

1 The Republic of the Union of Myanmar. Nationally Determined Contributions. (2021).

2 FAOSTAT. FAOSTAT Statistical Database. (2022).

3 FAO. Global Forest Resources Assessment 2020. (2020).

4 Liu, J. & Wallace, R. Climate danger grows in ‘vulnerable’ Myanmar after military coup. Al Jazeera (2021).

5 Associated Press. EU sanctions target major Myanmar energy company. DW (2022).

6 Associated Press. 2 big energy firms exit Myanmar over human rights abuses by the military government. NPR (2022).

7 Battersby, A. Myanmar vows to accelerate energy projects. Upstream (2022).

8 Viktor Tachev. The Risks of the Myanmar LNG Pipeline. Energy Tracker Asia (2022).

9 International Trade Administration. Burma – Energy. (2022).

10 Climate Analytics. Decarbonising South and South East Asia. (2019).

11 MOEE. NEP Plan. The Republic of the Union of Myanmar Ministry of Electricity and Energy. (2022).

12 IEA. Myanmar National Electrification Project (NEP). IEA/IRENA Renewables Policies Database. (2017).

13 International Finance Corporation. Strategic Environmental Assessment of the Myanmar Hydropower Sector. (2018).

14 Bo, M. Myanmar on brink of economic collapse one year after military coup. DW (2022).

15 Aung, T. S., Fischer, T. B. & Azmi, A. S. Are large-scale dams environmentally detrimental? Life-cycle environmental consequences of mega-hydropower plants in Myanmar. Int. J. Life Cycle Assess. 25, 1749–1766 (2020).

16 The World Bank. Urban Transport in Yangon and Mandalay: Review of Sector Institutions, Expenditures, and Funding. (2020).

17 Asian Development Bank. Myanmar Transport Sector Policy Note – Urban Transport. (2016).

18 The Republic of the Union of Myanmar. Myanmar Energy Master Plan. (2015).

19 Frontier. Pledges but no progress as military neglects environment. Frontier Myanmar (2022).

20 Htoon, K. L. Government regulations put the brakes on cattle exports. Frontier Myanmar (2020).

21 Myint, T. China-Myanmar border trade: Case study on live cattle trade of Myanmar. (2022).

22 The Republic of the Union of Myanmar. Myanmar’s Intended Nationally Determined Contribution – INDC. (2015).

23 Lynn, K. Y. Plans for wind power from Chinese firm fall apart in Myanmar. China Dialogue (2020).

24 IRENA. Energy Profile – Myanmar. (2021).

25 MOEE & ERIA. Myanmar Energy Outlook 2020. (2020).

26 Eckstein, D., Künzel, V. & Schäfer, L. Global climate risk index 2021. (2021).

27 Both the State Administration Council (SAC), the military junta currently governing Myanmar, and the National Unity Government (NUG), the government in exile, submitted NDCs in July 2021. Both documents are nearly identical. The SAC aims to achieve a conditional target for total emissions reduction of 415 MtCO₂e (including LULUCF) over the period 2021 to 2030 (with an unconditional target of 245 MtCO₂e reduction). The NUG aims for 413 MtCO₂e reduction conditionally, 244 MtCO₂e reduction unconditionally, both including LULUCF and over the period 2021-2030.19 In this profile, we analyse the NDC officially submitted to the UNFCCC.

28 See assumptions and calculations here

29 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.

30 For further information, please see Global Forest Watch.

31 Given that the NDC has emissions for agriculture accounting for 32.1% of the total in 2013, rice cultivation and enteric fermentation would account for 37% and 28% of the sectoral total respectively. Data from the FAO confirms that rice cultivation and enteric fermentation are the main components of agricultural emissions, accounting for around 72% of emissions from this sector currently. The share from these two drivers has decreased slightly from 77% in 1990. At the same time, enteric fermentation’s share has increased while that of rice cultivation has decreased over the period from 1990. This may be a consequence of increased cattle exports after the government lifted a ban on this trade in October 2017.20,21 For further details on agricultural exports see Myanmar’s OEC country page.

32 Values taken from the World Bank. Total fossil fuel rents amounted to 3.5% and 2.7% of GDP in 2018 and 2019 respectively. Other sources have the oil and gas sector contributing 3.4% of GDP in 2017-18.

33 The rural electrification targets are forecast to provide power, through mini-grids, to 1.8 million (unconditional) to 3.6 million (conditional) people. This is presumably in line with earlier targets for the per household electrification rate (45% by 2020-21, 60% by 2025-26, and 80% by 2030) given in the country’s previous NDC submission.22

34 This being the difference between cumulative reductions (2021-2030) under the higher bound of the 1.5ºC compatible range and the that under the conditional NDC. Using the lower bound of the 1.5°C compatible range and the unconditional NDC, the gap would be 265 MtCO₂e.

35 Energy-related GHG emissions increased from 9.4 MtCO₂e/yr in 2010 to 23.6 MtCO₂e/yr in 2019, an increase of 150%.

36 Oil’s contribution to primary energy increased from 54 PJ/yr in 2010 to 295 PJ/yr in 2019. Its share in the energy mix grew from 9% to 30% over this period.

37 Unabated fossil fuels supplied 498 PJ/yr in 2019, around half of the country’s TPES that year. The other half was supplied by variable and conventional renewables. Of renewable energy, around 90% is from hydropower.24 Under the median of the 1.5°C pathways, unabated fossil fuels energy supply 232 PJ/yr in 2035 and 111 in PJ/yr. While unabated fossil fuels share in TPES would drop only slightly by 2030 (to 45%), by 2050 their share would drop to 13%. Note that unabated fossil fuel supply has increased drastically between 2015 and 2019. In 2015, they supplied 285 PJ/yr and contribute a 36% share to TPES. The increase is largely driven by a greater supply of oil. See the IEA’s Myanmar country page for further details.

38 These are in line with previous energy policy and electricity planning documents. For example, the BAU scenario in the NDC is taken from the country’s 2014 National Electricity Master Plan.

39 The NDC does state that coal will not increase beyond 2030 and be phased out by 2050. However, the government sees natural gas’ role in the energy mix as being more dependent on the ability to scale up renewable generation capacity.1

40 The exemption being the pathway that assumes low energy demand.

41 For a breakdown of Myanmar’s renewable capacity and generation, please see the IRENA’s country profile.

42 The residential sector accounted for, on average, around 80% of total final consumption between 1990 and 2010. In 2019, this dropped to 55% as other sectors, particularly industry and transport, have seen increased consumption. Biomass has historically accounted for 98% of final energy in the buildings sector (average 1990 to 2015). Biomass’ share has fallen since 2015 and was 87% in 2019. See the IEA’s Myanmar country page for further details.

43 As of 2018. See the IRENA’s country profile. As noted in the country’s 2015 Energy Master Plan, in 2012, rural household lighting accounted for around 0.3% of total household energy consumption while rural cooking accounted for 86%.18

44 Note that Myanmar’s rural population makes up 70% of the total.1

45 Specifically, the government intends to distribute 5.1 million improved fuelwood cook stoves and additionally promote the replacement of wood cook stoves by LPG based cooking technology across 1 million households by 2030. The distribution of improved fuelwood cook stoves is estimated to result in a cumulative emissions reduction of 12.99 MtCO₂e over the period 2021-2030. Of this, 21% will go towards the country’s NDC emission reduction target. The switch to LPG cook-stoves is estimated to result in 14.94 MtCO₂e avoided emissions over the period 2021-2030.

46 Oil consumption in the building sector grew from 0.09 to 20 PJ/yr between 2015 and 2019. Its share in the sector’s final energy increased from 0.02% to 4% over that period.

47 This is part of the NDC’s overall conditional energy efficiency target of a 20% improvement from 2012 levels by 2030.

48 Industrial gross value added contributed 38% to GDP in 2019, up from 25.6% in 2010. Over the same period, industrial final energy consumption’s share of the total increased from 10% to 19%.

49 Oil consumption increased from 9.6 PJ/yr in 2010 to 94.6 PJ/yr in 2019. Over the same time, total final energy consumption in industry increased from 53.5 PJ/yr to 160 PJ/yr. Oil thus accounted for around 80% of consumption growth.

50 The energy consumption reduction target is also at odds with forecasts put forth in the 2015 Energy Master Plan. That document projected that industrial final energy consumption would increase at an annual growth rate of 11.6% under a “medium” scenario where the country’s GDP would grow at 7.1% per year over this time.18 More recently, a report by the Economic Research Institute for ASEAN and East Asia found that under BAU, industry’s final energy consumption would grow from 5.7 Mtoe in 2016 to around 10 Mtoe by 2030 and above 15 Mtoe by 2040. Under scenarios which assume a higher energy efficiency or lower GDP, industry’s 2040 consumption would be between 10 and 15 Mtoe.25

51 The 2015 Energy Master Plan notes that offshore natural gas production and export had been the largest driver of economic growth in the decade leading up to 2012.18

52 Myanmar’s 2015 Energy Master Plan notes the linear relationship between motorisation and GDP/capita and anticipates that this relationship will hold through the planning period out to 2035.18

53 According to the Department of Road Transport Administration, between 2010 and 2019, the number of registered vehicles in the city increased from 261 thousand to 913 thousand. Motorcycles accounted for 46% of this increase while cars accounted for 28%. Busses, on the other hand, only accounted for 1% of the increase.

54 Note that transport sector emissions saw a sharp decline in 2008 likely due to the devastation caused by tropical cyclone Nargis. The increasing frequency of such events has made Myanmar one of the most highly impacted countries by climate change.1,26

55 A more recent report by the Economic Research Institute for ASEAN and East Asia also forecasts transport energy consumption to more than double between 2016 and 2040 and continue to rely heavily on oil products, but with natural gas playing a more prominent role.25


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

Energy system transformation

Myanmar’s carbon emissions have grown from 16-25 MtCO₂/yr between 2015 and 2019, an increase of 52%. In contrast, under the 1.5°C pathways analysed here, Myanmar’s CO₂ emissions, excl. LULUCF, would decrease between 36-54% by 2030, and reach net zero CO2₂ between 2048-2063.

The energy sector is the country’s largest source of carbon emissions, aside from LULUCF, and energy related emissions have been growing rapidly in the last decade.35 Currently, Myanmar’s primary energy mix is composed mainly of biomass and oil. As of 2019, these two sources accounted for 46% and 30% of the total, respectively. In line with the increase in energy-related emissions, oil’s share in the energy mix has been growing rapidly in the last decade.36

Electrification of end uses is seen as a key driver for decarbonising the energy sector of South and South East Asian countries including Myanmar.10 This electrification will in turn affect the emissions intensities of the industrial, transportation, and buildings sectors. Myanmar’s government has put particular emphasis on electrifying the buildings sector through their ongoing National Electrification Project.11,12

In recent years the country has been slowly increasing the share of electricity in final energy consumption (from 4% in 2010 to 8% in 2019). The analysed pathways forecast that, at the median level, for the building, industrial, and transportation sectors, the share of electricity in final energy consumption will increase to 15% by 2030 and 49% by 2050.

Electrification of end use sectors would have to be done through renewable power generation. As such, the 1.5°C pathways see non-bio renewables accounting for 77% of all power generation by 2030 and almost 100% by 2040.


Myanmarʼs primary energy mix

petajoule per year

SSP1 Low CDR reliance
20192030204020501 000
SSP1 High CDR reliance
20192030204020501 000
Low energy demand
20192030204020501 000
High energy demand - Low CDR reliance
20192030204020501 000
  • Renewables incl. biomass
  • Unabated fossil
  • Nuclear and/or fossil with CCS
  • Negative emissions technologies via BECCS

Myanmarʼs 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 Myanmar. 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
31 to 43
22 to 28
16 to 22
Relative to reference year in %
−49 to −28%
−64 to −53%
−73 to −64%
Total CO₂
8 to 10
2 to 4
−1 to 1
2048 to 2063
Relative to reference year in %
−54 to −36%
−90 to −73%
−104 to −92%