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. Ethiopia is currently reviewing progress and updating the CRGE strategy as well as their NDC. In lieu of another five-year development plan, Ethiopia released its first-ever ten-year economic development plan in June 2020. The new plan aims to bring economic growth, expecting 10.2% annual growth, while also supporting a climate-resilient green economy (Ethiopian Monitor, 2020). The Planning and Development Commission undertook public consultations on the plan from June 29 to July 11; however, a copy of the plan has not yet been released online and is not reflected in this CAT assessment (Planning and Development Commission of Ethiopia, 2020).
Prior to COVID-19, Ethiopia experienced high economic growth, with rising per capita incomes, and falling poverty rates. On average, GDP grew at a rate of 9.06% during the period 2015–2019 but is projected to slow to 3% in 2020 due to COVID-19 (International Monetary Fund, 2020). Ethiopia’s Planning and Development Commission projects higher growth, expecting 6% for the 2020 fiscal year (Fikade, 2020). While this is significantly lower than their expected annual growth of 10.2% under the new 10-year plan, Ethiopia is one of only seven countries worldwide projected to maintain GDP growth over 3% (International Monetary Fund, 2020). This is also much higher than the regional average, which projects African economies will contract by -1.7% in 2020 (International Monetary Fund, 2020).
Compounding the impacts of COVID-19, Ethiopia is also battling an invasion of desert locusts which, as of April 2020, had driven about one million individuals in Ethiopia into food insecurity (FAO, 2020). The COVID-19 pandemic has also led to the postponement of Ethiopia’s national elections until next year (Deutsche Welle, 2020). The elections had originally been scheduled for August 2020.
Under current policy projections, without the expected impact of COVID-19, GHG emissions in Ethiopia are expected to be 165–239 MtCO2e in 2030 (excluding land-use, land-use change and forestry (LULUCF)). Compared to 2017 levels (127 MtCO2e excluding LULUCF), this 2030 projection represents an increase in emissions by 31–89%. Taking into account reduced economic activity due to COVID-19, and based on new GDP projections, GHG emissions in Ethiopia are expected to dip slightly in 2020 and 2021 and rebound to 155–219 MtCO2e (excluding LULUCF) in 2030, 22–73% above 2017 levels.
Ethiopia is participating in the Scaling-Up Renewable Energy Program (SREP) funded by the Climate Investment Funds (Climate Investment Funds, n.d.). The SREP investment plan for Ethiopia, adopted in 2012, aims to support the energy sector objectives of the country’s First Growth and Transformation Plan (GTP I). The GTP I set energy goals for the period 2010 to 2015, including the expansion of generating capacity, particularly renewable technologies, and transmission and distribution infrastructure (Ministry of Water and Energy, 2012).
Following the GTP I, the Second Growth and Transformation Plan (GTP II) set twelve major targets for the energy sector for the period 2015 to 2020. Primarily, it aims to increase power generating capacity from 4 GW in 2015 to 17 GW by 2020, with hydropower accounting for over 13 GW. It further plans to increase electricity coverage from 60% in 2015 to 90% by 2020 (Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, 2016). With the GTP II period ending in 2020, the plan is expected to be replaced with a new ten-year development plan, released for public consultation in June 2020. 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 2019, only 4.45 GW of renewable capacity had actually been installed, with hydropower capacity accounting for 3.8 GW (IRENA, 2020). Failure to meet the targets of planned renewables capacity extension defined in the GTP has been mainly caused by delays in construction plans for major hydropower projects.
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, Sudan and Ethiopia over the construction of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (Al Jazeera, 2020). 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. Such an agreement has not yet been reached, while Ethiopia began to fill the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam on the Nile in June 2020 (Zane, 2020a, 2020b).
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 750 MW. In the first round, two projects totalling 250 MW were both awarded to Saudi energy developer AWCA in September 2019. The projects are the first to be developed under Ethiopia’s new public-private partnership framework and are expected to avoid 0.32 MtCO2e per year (ACWA Power, 2019).
In 2010, GHG emissions from agriculture were responsible for about 75 MtCO2e, or 50% of Ethiopia’s emissions. In absolute terms, emissions from agriculture are expected increase more than any other sector under a BAU scenario, adding an additional 110 MtCO2e by 2030 (Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, 2011). A recent progress assessment of the CRGE identified 39 ongoing or completed projects expected to have mitigation benefits in the agriculture/livestock (Pegasys, 2020).
Livestock was the single largest source of emissions in Ethiopia, producing 65 MtCO2e in 2010, more than 40% of national emissions (Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, 2011). Under the CRGE, four initiatives were selected to be fast tracked, including reducing emissions from livestock and establishing a mechanism to monetise these reductions.
The cultivation of crops contributed another 12 MtCO2e in 2010 from the use of fertilisers and N2O emitted from crop residues. To address these emissions, the government aims to introduce lower-emitting agricultural practices, as well as increase production on existing agricultural lands and capture new agricultural lands through irrigation to avoid the conversion of forests (Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, 2011).
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 of the interventions assessed by the CRGE. The planned National Railway Network (NRN), consisting of 5,000 km of electric rail, could reduce 8.9 MtCO2 per year by 2030. One segment of the NRN, the Ethiopia-Djibouti electric railway line, began commercial operations in January 2018 (Xinhua, 2018). It was financed by the Export-Import Bank of China. As a landlocked country, the Ethiopia-Djibouti line is critical to shifting road transportation to rail as it connects Ethiopia to a major port. 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).
Ethiopia anticipates meeting much of its NDC through reductions in emissions from the forestry sector (Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, 2011).
In May 2019, Ethiopia launched its National Green Development programme, led by Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, which included a plan to plant four billion trees in 2019 (Embassy of the Federal Republic of Ethiopia, 2020). As part of this effort, Ethiopia claims to have planted more than 350 million trees in a single day, possibly a world record, and to have reached the four billion figure (both planted and seedlings) by year’s end, though some have questioned the veracity of these figures (BBC News, 2019, 2020; Mwai, 2019; National Green Development, n.d.; Office of the Prime Minister, 2019). In 2020, the country aims to plant another five billion trees starting in mid-June, depending on the spread of the coronavirus (Getachew, 2020).