Current Policy Projections
The basis of Ethiopia’s mitigation policy is its Climate-Resilient Green Economy (CRGE) strategy, published in 2011 (Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, 2011). As the name suggests, the strategy aims to keep greenhouse gas emissions low and build climate resilience, while achieving middle-income status by 2025. The strategy is based on four pillars: reducing agricultural emissions, protecting and expanding forests, expanding renewable electricity generation, and adopting energy efficient technologies in transport, industry and the built environment.
Under current policy projections, GHG emissions in Ethiopia are expected to be in the range of 185–257 MtCO2e in 2030 (excluding land-use, land-use change and forestry (LULUCF)). Compared to 2013 levels (114 MtCO2e excluding LULUCF), this 2030 range represents an increase in emissions by 63% to 126%.
The 2030 emissions range reflects uncertainty around the implementation of climate-related policies. The business-as-usual (BAU) scenario in the CRGE and Ethiopia’s Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) anticipated that emissions would increase to 400 MtCO2e in 2030 (including LULUCF)/310 MtCO2e (excluding LULUCF).
Ethiopia’s Second National Communication, submitted in May 2016, provided a new BAU scenario where the emissions level in 2030 was significantly lower than the one in the NDC (Ministry of Environment and Forest, 2015). We assume that this new BAU scenario includes policies put forward under the First Growth and Transformation Plan (GTP I) – which is a five-year plan put forward by the government to enhance the economy – and we use this projection as the basis for the upper end of the range of our current policy scenario. Conversely, the Second Growth and Transformation Plan (GTP II) reiterates the targets put forward in the NDC (based on the CRGE strategy) to be achieved by 2020 (Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, 2016), which represents the lower-end of the range of our current policy projections.
Ethiopia is experiencing high economic growth, with rising per capita incomes, and falling poverty rates. On average, GDP grew at a rate 10.5% during the period 2005/06–2015/16 but has since slowed to 8%. In the Second Growth and Transformation Plan, running until 2020, Ethiopia aims at an annual growth of 11%, while projections from the Government’s Second National Communication envision sustained economic growth up to 2030 (set at 8.4% per year).
Ethiopia is participating in the Scaling-Up Renewable Energy Program (SREP) funded by the Climate Investment Fund. The SREP is embedded in the Growth and Transformation Plan (GTP) which has three broad goals. First, it aims to increase power generation capacity up to 22 GW in 2030 with an intermediate target of 10 GW in 2015.
Next, it plans to increase electricity coverage from 60% in 2015 to 90% by 2020 (Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, 2016). Finally, the government also plans to become an exporter of electricity and a green hub in East Africa in the near future, which will require investments in an extensive distribution grid. The Gulf Cooperation Council Interconnection Agency (GCCIA) is evaluating the feasibility of an electricity link with Ethiopia to import hydropower, in an attempt to reduce reliance on oil and gas for power generation (Darby, 2018).
Meeting these goals hinges on new hydropower projects, including the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance, the Gilgel Gibe III and the Gilgel Gibe IV dams, with an estimated total capacity of 9.4 GW (IEA, 2014). The Gilgel Gibe III dam was completed in 2016 and will contribute to Ethiopia’s power production with 1.8 GW once running at full capacity (The Economist, 2016). Next to Gibe III, Ethiopia is building the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam which will be more than thrice its size (Whittington, 2016). As of 2018, only 4.3 GW of renewable capacity had actually been installed, with hydropower capacity accounting for 3.8 GW (IRENA, 2019). Failure to meet the targets of planned renewables capacity extension defined in the Growth and Transformation Plan has been mainly caused by delays in construction plans for these three main hydropower dams.
These delays can be attributed to concerns over the sustainability of the dams, and their effect on downstream riparian states such as Egypt. There is significant disagreement between Egypt and Ethiopia over the applicability of old Nile treaties and international law (Yihdego et al. 2016). Egypt relies on the Nile for the vast majority of its water and in 2017 Egyptian President Abdul Fattah al-Sisi declared that access to be “a matter of life and death” (Barfi, 2018). The conflict is ongoing and may continue for years to come (Mohamed, 2018).
Water management in the dams and downstream flow regions of the River Nile is further complicated by high variability which is likely to be compounded by the effects of climate change (Hammond, 2013). Further, the Gilgel Gibe III dam has had a negative impact on the water level and salinity of lake Turkana in Kenya (The Economist, 2016). Reaching a permanent legal or institutional framework accepted by the affected states, which addresses the negative environmental effects will be pivotal for Ethiopia to meet the targets of the GTP.
Ethiopia is also part of the World Bank’s Scaling Solar program (World Bank, 2019). In April 2019, the Ethiopian Ministry of Finance initiated the second round of tenders for up to 750MW. The first round, for 250MW, began in 2017. In March 2018, 12 project developers were invited to submit proposals (World Bank, 2018). The results of the first round are expected in the Q3 2019.
GHG emissions in Ethiopia’s transportation sector are projected to grow by 36 MtCO2e from 2010 to 2030 under a business as usual scenario (Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, 2011). The primary drivers of this increase are freight and passenger transport. The CRGE Strategy estimated that the sector has an abatement potential of up to 12.2 MtCO2e in 2030 (Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, 2011). The Ethiopian government plans to increase fuel efficiency standards and promote the uptake of hybrid and electric vehicles; construct a renewable energy powered electric rail network; improve public transportation in the capital, Addis Ababa; and increase the use of biofuels.
Building an electric railway network has the greatest mitigation potential within the transportation sector. Constructing a 5,000km electric rail network could reduce 8.9 MtCO2by 2030. In January 2018, the Ethiopia-Djibouti electric railway line began commercial operations (Xinhua, 2018). It was financed by the Export-Import Bank of China. As a landlocked country, the line is critical to shifting road transportation to rail. The completion of a second railway line has been delayed due to a lack of finance (Abiye, 2019).
Improving public transportation in the capital, Addis Ababa, through the construction of a light rail transit (LRT) and a bus rapid transit (BRT), was identified in the CRGE as another abatement opportunity. The two transit systems would have an annual abatement potential of 0.1 and 0.04 MtCO2e respectively in 2030 based on a 2015 completion date(Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, 2011). The LRT was completed in 2015, also with support of the Export-Import Bank of China(Xinhua, 2019). However, the BRT, which has received support from the French Development Agency (AFD), South Korea and the city itself, is unlikely to be operational before 2021 (Fikade, 2018; Gebre, 2019).