Nepal’s conditional 2030 targets put the country on track to reach 69-76 MtCO₂e/yr by 2030 (or 55-70% above 2011 levels) excluding LULUCF. Cost-effective pathways compatible with the Paris Agreement’s 1.5°C goal indicates that Nepal could reduce its domestic emissions to around 27-37 MtCO₂e/yr by 2030 (or 18-40% below 2011 levels) excluding LULUCF.
Nepal’s fair share of global climate action, as assessed by the Climate Action Tracker, lies well above this cost-effective emissions pathway, indicating that the country should receive international support – including finance, technology transfer and capacity building – to completely bridge the emissions gap between its fair share and the country’s cost-effective pathway. Nepal’s 2020 NDC estimates that USD 25 billion would be required to achieve the NDC‘s mitigation targets, of which Nepal would invest USD 3.4 billion unconditionally.
This emissions accounting does not take into consideration the significant LULUCF sinks that the country holds. Today Nepal maintains just over 41.69% of its land under forest cover. In 2011, when forest cover was closer to 39%, the carbon sink capacity was estimated at 13 MtCO₂e/yr. As Nepal expands forest coverage and improves forest management practices, the country’s land sink capacity will increase. In its latest GHG inventory, Nepal projects that forest sink capacities may grow by an additional 5 MtCO₂e/yr by 2030.
Long term pathway
In its 2021 LTS, Nepal has stated its intention to achieve net zero GHG emissions by 2045, through ambitious conditional targets. Nepal envisions fulfilling this goal mainly by increasing its renewable energy capacity, and through “clean” electrification of all major end-use sectors (including transport, buildings, and industries), by increasing and maintaining the country’s forest cover, through sustainable agriculture and forestry, and through sustainable waste management practices. Nepal’s LTS targets are conditional on the country receiving international support, including through climate finance, capacity building and technology transfer.
Cost-effective pathways assessed here indicate that Nepal will need to reduce its GHG emissions to 18-23 MtCO₂e/yr or 48-59% below 2011 by 2050, which would then need to be balanced by corresponding land sinks to reach net zero by mid-century., Given the level of sinks that Nepal benefits from — estimated at around 13 MtCO₂e/yr in 2011 and projected to increase another 5 MtCO₂e/yr until 2030 — the country is well positioned to reach the level of sinks required to reach net zero GHG emissions by 2045.
In Nepal, emissions from livestock and crop cultivation account for two-thirds of national emissions. These sub-sectors are harder to decarbonise completely due to lack of viable alternative technology and implications on food and livelihood security.
As Nepal harnesses more of its hydropower and solar capacity and promotes electrification of its major end-use sectors, the energy sector has the potential to decarbonise — reducing both CO₂ and non-CO₂ emissions. Although some models show negative emissions from bioenergy with carbon capture and storage (BECCS), this is unlikely to happen as Nepal does not have any proven CDR storage capacity.