Nepal’s Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC), submitted in October 2016, is more ambitious than its Intended Nationally Determined Contribution (INDC) submitted earlier this year. While the INDC contained a list of ten targets, Nepal has added four more targets to its NDC. These targets include plans to increase renewable energy production which shows Nepal’s intent to move to a low carbon development pathway. The NDC does not include any overall greenhouse gas (GHG) emission reduction targets. We could not quantify the overall impact of Nepal’s targets on GHG emissions and therefore we could not rate the NDC. That said, the NDC contains ambitious targets, expected to result in emissions reductions compared to the current policy projections, which lie in the “1.5°C Paris Agreement compatible” range.
Nepal’s current policies are consistent with holding warming well below 2°C, and limiting warming to 1.5°C. Nepal’s current policies do not require other countries to make comparably deeper reductions or greater effort.
Given that Nepal’s NDC consists of many individual actions with different target years and that some actions lack detail and leave room for further specification, we were not able to quantify and rate the aggregate impact of Nepal’s NDC on GHG emissions. We encourage Nepal to provide more clarity on its climate change targets in its next NDC.
As of 2010, Nepal’s own emissions make up less than 0.1% of global emissions. With its current policies, Nepal’s GHG emissions are expected to increase to between 50–53 MtCO2e by 2030 (an increase of 55–66% compared to 2010 levels). Even with this increase, the country’s per capita emissions would only grow from 1.2 tCO2e/cap as of 2010 to 1.5–1.6 tCO2e/cap by 2030, still far below the 2012 world average of 7.6 tCO2e/cap (JRC, 2016).
Nepal submitted its NDC on 5 October 2016. In its NDC, Nepal published plans to build resilience to climate change impacts as well as to reduce GHG emissions (Government of Nepal, 2016a). Nepal has given central importance to climate change adaptation in its development plans and policies. To implement these, it plans to rely mostly on technical and financial support from development partners (Government of Nepal, 2016a). Although Nepal has shown its intent to reduce GHG emissions, it has not outlined a clear overall GHG reduction target or commitment in its NDC. Under its Low Carbon Economic Development Strategy, it aims to catalyse concrete actions that would support low carbon economic development. This strategy would focus on mitigating emissions in the energy, agriculture, industry, transport, waste, residential and commercial sectors (Government of Nepal, 2016a). Some of the main elements with regards to emission mitigation in its NDC (Government of Nepal, 2016a) are:
The measures reflect Nepal’s objective to steer itself on a low carbon development pathway, but there are many individual actions with different target years, and some actions lack detail and leave room for further specification. In the NDC, the National Rural and Renewable Energy Program (NRREP) is mentioned. However, many of the details under NRREP are missing, such as the target year, the characteristics of the energy systems to be installed, and whether the target is additional or cumulative. Therefore, it was not possible to quantify the aggregate effect of these targets. However, Nepal does have a long-term vision to decarbonise its electricity sector and reduce its dependency on fossil fuels.
The CAT ratings are based on climate commitments in (I)NDCs. However, given the lack of an overall emissions reduction target and the lack of specificity concerning some of the fourteen targets put forward in Nepal’s NDC, we were able to neither quantify nor rate Nepal’s NDC.
If the CAT were to rate Nepal‘s projected emissions levels in 2030 under current policies, we would rate Nepal “1.5°C Paris Agreement compatible,” indicating that Nepal’s climate commitment in 2030 is consistent with holding warming well below 2oC, and limiting warming to 1.5°C. Nepal’s current policies do not require other countries to make comparably deeper reductions or greater effort, and are in the most stringent part of its Fair Share range.
Nepal’s contribution to global GHG emissions is negligible, with only 32 MtCO2e emitted in 2010—less than 0.1% of global emissions. From 1990 to 2010, Nepal’s GHG emissions excluding LULUCF have increased by 2.2% per year on average. With current policies, this emissions growth is projected to slightly increase to 2.2–2.5% per year, on average, in the period 2010–2030, reaching 50–53 MtCO2e in 2030. With this slightly increased growth, per capita emissions will still be very low at around 1.5–1.6 tCO2e per capita by 2030.
Nepal is a least developed country that is highly vulnerable to climate change. Particular vulnerabilities include rapidly melting glaciers, resulting in the danger of glacial lake outbursts and degradation of agricultural land, on which two thirds of the population base their livelihoods (Ministry of Environment, 2011). Therefore, Nepal has focused its climate change action on adaptation. Nepal has developed nine National Adaptation Programmes of Action (NAPAs). These NAPAs focus mainly on the agricultural sector, water resources and disaster risk management (UNFCCC, 2013). For Nepal to be able to implement these NAPAs, replenishment of the Least Developed Countries Fund (LDCF) is needed (UNFCCC, 2014).
In early 2010, Nepal established the Climate Change Management division in the Ministry of Environment. The main policy related to emissions mitigation is the Climate Change Policy 2011, the central goal of which is ‘to improve livelihoods by mitigating and adapting to the adverse effects of climate change, adopting a low-carbon emissions socio-economic development path and supporting and collaborating in the spirits of country’s commitments to national and international agreements related to climate change’ [sic] (Government of Nepal, 2011a).
Energy-related CO2 emissions contributed only 28% to Nepal’s total emissions in 2010, but this share is projected to increase to between 36–40% by 2030. As of 2014, about 85% of the population has access to electricity (World Bank, 2017) and this share is expected to increase to 100% by 2030 (Shrestha & Shakya, 2012). The Nepali energy mix is dominated by hydropower, which in 2015 supplied nearly 100% of the national electricity demand (IEA, 2017). To meet the growing energy demand, the Government has ten and twenty-year hydropower development plans in place, which aim to install 10 GW of hydropower by 2020, and 25 GW by 2030, respectively (Government of Nepal, 2011b).
The majority of emissions in Nepal are non-CO2 GHG emissions from the agriculture sector. Methane and nitrous oxide contributed 67% of total GHG emissions in 2010, arising from rice cultivation, enteric fermentation and agricultural soils (Government of Nepal, 2014).
Nepal has a high deforestation rate due to drivers such as illegal harvesting, overgrazing, forest fires, and a high dependency on forests. There is a strong interest in Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD+) and a number or REDD+ readiness projects are being implemented. However, some authors have pointed out that the implementation of REDD+ projects is challenging in Nepal, because of weak governance and high opportunity costs for avoided agricultural expansion (Paudel et al., 2013).
In July 2016, the Nepal’s Ministry of Forests and Soil Conservation published its Forestry Sector Strategy (2016-2015), which aims to enhance forest carbon stocks and reduce deforestation (Government of Nepal, 2016c). Concrete goals mentioned for 2025 include an increase in the forest carbon stock by 5% and a reduction of the mean annual deforestation rate from 0.44% and 0.18% to 0.05% in Nepal’s largest forests, Tarai and Chure, respectively. Additionally, the Strategy envisages the operation of a forest carbon trade or payment mechanism, which could facilitate the protection of Nepali forests.
The historical dataset is based on Nepal’s Second National Communication (Government of Nepal, 2015). The 1994 LULUCF value is taken from UNFCCC (2011).
The current policy scenario is based on projections from Nepal’s Second National Communication for energy, industry, agriculture and waste sectors (Government of Nepal, 2014). The National Communication sketches five scenarios (BAU, Medium growth, High growth, Medium growth with mitigation and High growth with mitigation) of which two (BAU and Medium growth) have been used to form a range. The High growth scenario was disregarded since it assumes a GDP growth rate of 10% per annum which is not in line with IMF projections of Nepal’s GDP (IMF, 2016), and seems unrealistic given an average GDP growth rate of ~4% in the last 10 years (2006-2015). The National Communication’s BAU scenario assumes 4.63% GDP growth per year, the medium growth scenario 5% per year.
Government of Nepal (2011a). Climate Change Policy, 2011.
Government of Nepal (2011b). Scaling-up Renewable Energy Program.
Government of Nepal (2014). Second National Communication (submitted to UNFCCC in Dec, 2015)
Government of Nepal (2016a). Nationally Determined Contributions.
Government of Nepal (2016b). Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDC).
Government of Nepal (2016c). Forestry Sector Strategy (2016-2025)
IEA (2017). Statistics: Electricity and Heat for 2015.
IMF (2016). GDP projections for Nepal.
JRC (2016). GHG time series 1990-2012 per capita emissions for world countries. Joint Research Centre, Emissions Database for Global Atmospheric Research.
Ministry of Environment, Government of Nepal (2011) Status of Climate Change in Nepal.
Paudel, N.S., Khatri, D.B., Khanal, D.R. and Karki, R. (2013). The context of REDD+ in Nepal: Drivers, agents and institutions. Occasional Paper 81. CIFOR, Bogor, Indonesia.
Shrestha, R. M. & Shakya, S. R. (2012). Benefits of low carbon development in a developing country: Case of Nepal. In: Energy Economics, 34, p S503-S512.
UNFCCC (2011). GHG emission profiles for non-Annex I countries.
UNFCCC (2013). National adaptation programmes of action.
World Bank (2017). Access to electricity (% of population)