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Sri Lanka In brief

What is Sri Lankaʼs pathway to limit global warming to 1.5°C?

Economy wide

To align to 1.5°C compatible pathways, Sri Lanka needs to reduce its GHG emissions to 17-26 MtCO₂e/yr by 2030, or reductions of around 28-52% below 2015 levels by 2030, excluding LULUCF.

With international support, Sri Lanka could adopt a more ambitious policy framework for scaling up renewable energy to enhance its energy security and independence.

Sri Lankaʼs total GHG emissions

excl. LULUCF MtCO₂e/yr

Displayed values
Reference year
−100%−50%0%50%19902010203020502070
Net zero GHG excl. LULUCF*
2060
Reference year
2010
1.5°C emissions level
−29%
Estimated NDC (conditional)
+62%
Ambition gap
−91%
  • 1.5°C compatible pathways
  • Middle of the 1.5°C compatible range
  • Current policy projections
  • 1.5°C emissions range
  • Historical emissions

2030 NDC

In 2021, Sri Lanka updated its NDC target to a 14.5% emissions reduction below business as usual (BAU), equivalent to greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions levels of 44.4 MtCO₂e/yr by 2030 or 24% above 2015 levels, excluding LULUCF.18

1 Sri Lanka CO₂ Emissions – Worldometer.

2 Ministry of Environment. Updated Nationally Determined Contributions. Policies (2021).

3 Jayasinghe, M., Selvanathan, E. A. & Selvanathan, S. Energy poverty in Sri Lanka. Energy Econ 101, 105450 (2021).

4 The Economic Times. Sri Lanka imposes longest power cuts in 26 years.

5 Hoskins P. Sri Lanka down to last day of petrol, new prime minister says. BBC News.

6 Ministry of Mahaweli Development and Environment. Nationally Determined Contributions. Ministry of Mahaweli Development and Environment Sri Lanka. (2016).

7 Ceylon Electricity Board. Long Term Generation Expansion Plan. (2022).

8 Coomaraswamy Mawatha, A. & Lanka, S. Sri Lanka Sustainable Energy Authority. (2019).

9 Aneez S. Sri Lanka’s drought, failure to raise power capacity force nationwide power cuts.

10 International Energy Agency. Sri Lanka – Countries & Regions – IEA.

11 The World Bank. Access to clean fuels and technologies for cooking (% of population) – Sri Lanka. (2022).

12 The Times of India. Sri Lanka’s economic crisis exposes gaps in renewable energy push. (2022).

13 Central Bank of Sri Lanka. Annual Report 2018. (2019).

14 Coomaraswamy Mawatha, A. & Lanka, S. Sri Lanka Sustainable Energy Authority -Sri Lanka Energy Balance 2019. (2019).

15 Fernando R. Proposed Sri Lanka National Policy for Industrial Development: A commentary. (2022).

16 Sugathapala, T. Assessment of Skills and Knowledge Gap in Energy Efficiency within the Transport Sector in Sri Lanka. (2020).

17 Jayasinghe U. Sri Lanka stops fuel supply to non-essential services as crisis worsens. (2022).

18 Sri Lanka’s updated NDC provides a breakdown of the emissions reduction target per sector covered compared to a business as usual scenario. The document provides a graphical representation of the targeted emissions reductions. To assess Sri Lanka’s conditional NDC, we extracted the 2030 emissions level for each of the sectors from a given graph then added up the values to obtain the total level of emissions by 2030 excluding the LULUCF sector.

19 Sri Lanka’s updated NDC provides a breakdown of the emissions reduction target per sector covered compared to a business as usual scenario. The document provides a graphical representation of the emissions reductions targeted. To assess Sri Lanka’s conditional NDC, we have extracted the 2030 emissions level for each of the sectors from a given graph then added up the values to obtain the total level of emissions by 2030, excluding the LULUCF sector.

Long-term strategy

Sri Lanka aims to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050, brought forward from its previous target of 2060.

Negative emissions

A 1.5°C compatible pathway would necessitate a reduction in GHG emissions, excluding LULUCF, to around 6 MtCO₂e/yr by 2050 or 83% below 2015 levels. Sri Lanka committed to increasing forest cover by 32% between 2021-2030, which will be key to balancing remaining emissions from other sectors.

Sectors

Power

  • In 2019, renewable energy resources met approximately 34% of electricity demand, mainly through large-scale hydro. The power sector remains heavily reliant on coal and oil (66% of the power mix).
  • Sri Lanka has committed to building no new coal power plants in the future, but power utility companies do not seem to be implementing this commitment. Also, it plans to convert existing oil-based combined cycle power plants to run on fossil gas.
  • 1.5°C compatible pathways would require strengthening the government’s 2030 target of a 70% renewables share in the mix to 92-94% by 2030, combined with a fossil fuel phase-out.
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Buildings

buildings

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Transport

transport

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Industry

industry

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Footnotes