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Zimbabwe Ambition gap

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

1.5°C compatible pathways

Zimbabwe’s first NDC contained a 33% reduction in the emissions from the energy sector only, whereas the revised 2021 NDC includes emissions from waste, IPPU and AFOLU in its mitigation target of 40% reduction in per capita GHG emissions below BAU by 2030 (projected to be 44.7 MtCO₂e) when including LULUCF.2 When excluding LULUCF, this target is equivalent to emissions 57% above 2015 levels by 2030.14

Despite this increase in ambition from the previous NDC, Zimbabwe’s revised NDC is not yet in line with mitigation efforts required to be on a 1.5°C pathway. Analysed pathways show that this would require reductions of 46% (39% – 53%) below 2015 levels or absolute emissions of only 14 (12-15) MtCO₂e/yr by 2030 (excluding LULUCF). International support will be needed to help the country implement a 1.5°C compatible domestic emissions pathway.

Long term pathway

Zimbabwe’s Long-Term Strategy (LTS) for 2020-2050 includes a goal to reduce emissions by up to 33 MtCO₂e by 2050, or around 50% of BAU GHG emissions. Reductions from the AFOLU sector are expected to provide nearly half of the abatement (47%), followed by those from the energy (44%), waste (6.1%), and IPPU (2.7%) sectors.1

When excluding LULUCF, 1.5°C compatible pathways would require reductions of 68% below 2015 levels by 2050 or an emissions level of around 8 MtCO₂e.

Even with reduced emissions in the period to 2050, AFOLU remains a predominant emitting sector while the energy sector is the first sector to decarbonise; thus the need to focus on these areas.

1 Ministry of Environment Climate Tourism and Hospitality Industry. Long-term Low Greenhouse Gas Emission Development Strategy (2020-2050). (2019).

2 Republic of Zimbabwe. Revised Nationally Determined Contribution. (2021).

3 Zimbabwe Power Company. Hwange Power Station – Zimbabwe Power Company.

4 Ministry of Environment Water and Climate. Zimbabwe’s Third National Communication to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. (2016).

5 Ministry of Environment Climate Tourism and Hospitality Industry. Zimbabwe’s First Biennial Update Report to the UNFCCC. (2020).

6 Ministry of Finance and Economic Development. National Development Strategy 1 (NDS1) 2021-2025. (2019).

7 UNDP. Bright days ahead as the National Energy Policy is unveiled in Zimbabwe. (2012).

8 Murwira, S. “No electricity for cooking”: Droughts in Zimbabwe cut the lights in poor households – climatetracker. Climate Tracker (2021).

9 Ministry of Energy and Power Development. National Renewable Energy Policy. (Ministry of Energy and Power Development, 2019).

10 South Africa’s Eskom supplies Zimbabwe with 400 megawatts of power | Africanews.

11 Ministry of Energy and Power Development. National Renewable Energy Policy. vol. 1 (2019).

12 WorldBank. Access to electricity (% of population) – Zimbabwe | Data. (2021).

13 IEA. Zimbabwe Country Profile. IEA – Countries & Regions. (2022).

14 See assumptions for the NDC quantification here:

15 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.

16 Global Forest Watch. Zimbabwe. GFW. (2022).


Zimbabweʼs 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

Biomass accounts for 66% of the primary energy mix in Zimbabwe and is mostly used in households for cooking.13 Only 41% of the population has access to electricity, and 80% of Zimbabweans are estimated to rely on biomass for cooking instead of cleaner fuel options, which worsens indoor air pollution.1,4 Regarding efficient cookstoves, which also have benefits on health, the 2021 NDC states that there isn’t a ‘clear local implementing agency to advance that particular project’.5 However, transitioning away from traditional biomass will be key for Zimbabwe’s sustainable energy transition.

Transformation of the energy system away from reliance on coal to supply electricity and dependence on oil in the transport sector – accounting respectively for 15% and 10% of primary energy supply – will play an important role in Zimbabwe’s energy transition.8&9


Zimbabweʼs primary energy mix

petajoule per year

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

Zimbabweʼs 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 Zimbabwe. 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
12 to 15
8 to 12
6 to 12
Relative to reference year in %
−53 to −39%
−70 to −53%
−74 to −54%
Total CO₂
5 to 7
1 to 4
0 to 3
Relative to reference year in %
−63 to −45%
−90 to −66%
−96 to −74%