On 28 September, 2015, Kazakhstan submitted its Intended Nationally Determined Contribution (INDC), including the unconditional target to reduce GHG emissions including land use, land use change and forestry (LULUCF) by 15% below 1990 levels by 2030. This target is equivalent to 10% below 1990 levels excl. LULUCF. Based on this unconditional INDC target, we rate Kazakhstan “medium”.
The “medium” rating indicates that Kazakhstan’s climate plans are at the least ambitious end of what would be a fair contribution. This means it is not consistent with limiting warming to below 2°C unless other countries make much deeper reductions and comparably greater effort. The reduction target could therefore be strengthened to reflect Kazakhstan’s high levels of historical per capita emissions.
In addition, Kazakhstan has a conditional target to reduce emissions (incl. LULUCF) by 25% below 1990 levels by 2030 (equivalent to 20% below 1990 levels excl. LULUCF by 2030). This target is subject to “additional international investments, access to low carbon technologies transfer mechanism, green climate funds and flexible mechanism for country with economy in transition” (Republic of Kazakhstan, 2015).
Kazakhstan’s unconditional and conditional targets translate into emissions increases compared to 2012 levels of 13% and 1% in 2025 and 2030, respectively. However, according to our analysis, Kazakhstan will need to implement additional policies to reach its unconditional and conditional INDC targets. After declining to a minimum of 146 MtCO2e excl. LULUCF in 1999 (60% below 1990 levels), annual GHG emissions have increased and are projected to follow this trend until 2030.
For the second phase of the Kyoto Protocol, Kazakhstan has proposed average annual emissions to be at the level of 95% of 1990 levels during the period of 2013–2020, subject to the possibility of using the surplus from the first commitment period and other conditions. However, as of October 2015, Kazakhstan has not ratified the Doha Amendment to the Kyoto Protocol establishing the second commitment of the Kyoto Protocol. Kazakhstan’s Copenhagen pledge was to reduce emissions by -15% below 1992 levels incl. LULUCF by 2020 (equivalent to -19% below 1990 levels excl. LULUCF). This pledge was also rated “medium”.
Under the Copenhagen Accord, Kazakhstan proposed to reduce emissions by 15% below 1992 levels (incl. LULUCF) by 2020 (equivalent to an emission reduction of 19% below 1990 levels excl. LULUCF). Kazakhstan has also proposed a 2050 target of 25% reduction relative to 1992 levels excl. LULUCF (equivalent to an emission reduction of 33% below 1990 levels excl. LULUCF).
Kazakhstan submitted a QELRO (Quantified Emission Limitation or Reduction Objective) level of 95 for the second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol. This means that Kazakhstan’s average annual emissions during the period of 2013–2020 are proposed to be 5% below 1990 levels. Kazakhstan’s intention to commit to this QELRO was conditional to carry-over of full surplus from the first commitment period, environmental integrity of the Kyoto Protocol, access to mechanisms for both periods and on a mid-term 2013–2015 review to increase the level of ambition in terms of emissions reductions among others. It also requires the 2015 agreement to include participation of all parties with adequate commitments.
However, paragraph 3.7ter of the Doha Amendment imposes a more ambitious emission reduction target on Kazakhstan, as countries joining CP2 need to at least stabilise emissions in 2013–2020 to the average historic emission level over 2008–2010. This leads to a Kyoto pathway almost 77 MtCO2e/yr lower than the direct translation of their target for the period 2013–2020.
Kazakhstan’s unconditional INDC target is rated “medium”. This rating indicates that Kazakhstan’sclimate plans are at the least ambitious end of what would be a fair contribution. This means it is not consistent with limiting warming to below 2°C unless other countries make much deeper reductions and comparably greater effort. The reduction target could therefore be strengthened to reflect Kazakhstan’s high levels of historical per capita emissions.
Kazakhstan’s Copenhagen pledge for 2020 and long-term target are also rated “medium”.
Under currently implemented policies GHG emissions (excl. LULUCF) in Kazakhstan are expected to increase to 355–361 MtCO2e by 2020 and 443–491 MtCO2e by 2030. The 2020 emissions level is comparable with 1990, but a 24–37% increase above the 1990 level is foreseen by 2030.
Historical emissions excluding LULUCF saw a steep decline after 1990, with the lowest levels being reached in 1999 at 146 MtCO2e excl. LULUCF – only 41% of the 1990 level. Since then, emissions have grown rapidly, driven by the energy and industry sectors.
In May 2013, Kazakhstan adopted its “Concept for Kazakhstan’s Transition to Green Economy”. The Concept repeats targets included in the Kazakhstan 2050 Strategy (2012) including, amongst others, providing 50% of total energy supply by alternative and renewable energy sources (including nuclear) and decreasing energy intensity of GDP by 25% by 2020 compared to a 2008 baseline (Republic of Kazakhstan, 2013).
In August 2013, Kazakhstan adopted a feed-in tariff law “On Supporting the Use of Renewable Energy Sources.” The feed-in tariff scheme aims to increase the share of renewable electricity generation in line with the targets from the Concept of supplying 3% of electricity by wind and solar in 2020. The tariffs were set in June 2014.
Through an amendment of the 2007 ‘Ecological Code of the Republic of Kazakhstan’, the Kazakh emissions trading scheme (ETS) was enacted in 2011. A one-year pilot phase, covering 55% of total greenhouse gas emissions, took place in 2013. The cap for the ETS in 2013 was 147 MtCO2e plus a 20.6 MtCO2e reserve for new entrants. During the phase II (2014-2015) and phase III (2016-2020) the cap will decrease linearly to the targeted cap in 2020. During phase I allowances were allocated for free based on 2010 emissions. During phase II emissions are allocated based on verified emissions from 2011 and 2012 for 2014, and based on verified emissions from 2013 for 2015. From the start of phase II in 2016, auctioning and benchmarking might be introduced (ICAP, 2014; EDF & IETA, 2013).
The INDC, 2020 and 2050 targets were calculated from the most recent national inventory submissions (CRF, 2014). As the INDC and 2020 targets include LULUCF, these were converted to values excluding LULUCF for comparability purposes using a net-net approach, involving LULUCF projections based on the most recent national communication and inventory data.
The Kyoto pledge is calculated based on the official documentation provided by the UNFCCC based on Party submissions (Republic of Kazakhstan, 2012a; Republic of Kazakhstan, 2012b). We calculated Kazakhstan’s LULUCF accounting quantities in 2020 for afforestation, reforestation and deforestation using the current Kyoto rules. Forest management was calculated also with current Kyoto rules, with the cap set at 3% of base year or 15% of forest management, whichever is lower.
Current policy projections
Historic data are based on most recent national inventory submissions (CRF, 2014). The upper end of the current policy projection is based on the ‘with measures’ scenario from Kazakhstan’s Third-Sixth National Communication (2013b). Emission reductions due to the implementation of the feed-in tariff scheme for wind and solar energy were subtracted from this scenario. The lower end of the projections is based on a report prepared in 2011 by NERA and Bloomberg for the EBRD "The Demand for Greenhouse Gas Emissions Reduction Investments: An Investors’ Marginal Abatement Cost Curve for Kazakhstan (NERA Economic Consulting and Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF), 2011). Growth rates from the ‘Planned Policies’ Scenario were applied to the most recent historic data. The planned policies included in this scenario, including the feed-in tariff scheme, have currently been implemented.
CRF (2014). UNFCCC AWG-KP Submissions 2014. Common Reporting Format.
ICAP (2014). Kazakhstan Emissions Trading Scheme (KAZ ETS)
Republic of Kazakhstan (2015) Intended Nationally Determined Contribution
Republic of Kazakhstan (2013a) Concept for transition of the Republic of Kazakhstan to Green Economy
Republic of Kazakhstan (2013b). Third-Sixth National Communication of the Republic of Kazakhstan to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change.
Republic of Kazakhstan (2012a). Information by Parties included in Annex I listed in annex 1 to decision 1/CMP.7 on their quantified emission limitation or reduction objectives for the second commitment period under the Kyoto Protocol
Republic of Kazakhstan (2012b). Submission to the Ad-Hoc Working Group on Further Commitments for Annex I Parties under the Kyoto Protocol (AWG-KP): Information by Parties included in Annex I listed in annex 1 to decision 1/CMP.7 on their quantified emission limitation or reduction objectives for the second commitment period under the Kyoto Protocol, 2 May 2012
Republic of Kazahkstan (2010). Kazakhstan's pledge to the Copenhagen Accord. Compiled in: Compilation of economy-wide emission reduction targets to be implemented by Parties included in Annex I to the Convention, UNFCCC (2011).
NERA Economic Consulting and Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF) (2011). The Demand for Greenhouse Gas Emissions Reduction Investments: An Investors’ Marginal Abatement Cost Curve for Kazakhstan, Prepared for EBRD, October 2011, London.UNFCCC (2010). Compilation of pledges for emission reductions and related assumptions provided by Parties to date the associated emission reductions, page 11-12
 The QELRO, expressed as a percentage in relation to a base year, denotes the average level of emissions that an Annex B Party could emit on an annual basis during a given commitment period.
 This is part of the Doha decisions and constitutes part of the amendments to the Kyoto Protocol. Amendments only come into effect once they are ratified by Parties.