The Gambia is rare among the world’s developing countries in proposing an ambitious conditional target that would bend its emissions onto a downward trajectory. The unconditional target is also amongst the most ambitious: the CAT rates this commitment “1.5°C Paris Agreement compatible,” one of only two such ratings of the 32 countries we assess.
In 2017, The Gambia published the first volume of their Strategic Programme for Climate Resilience (SPCR), which summarises its strategy to integrate climate change into policy planning and action.
The Gambia's Paris Agreement target aims to unconditionally reduce emissions by 2.7% by 2030 below business-as-usual (BAU) and, conditional on international financial support, aims for a target of 45.4% reduction by 2030. One of the pillars of The Gambia’s strategy to achieve these reductions is the uptake of renewable energy technologies. After a slow start, this goal is now well on its way with, in May 2018, the first large-scale solar PV project in the Greater Banjul area receiving construction finance from the World Bank.
The Nationally Determined Contribution submitted under the Paris Agreement also includes abatement in the LULUCF and agriculture sectors. The Gambia plans to undertake considerable abatement through afforestation with targets for 2025 and 2030. In 2018, it launched a large project to restore 10,000 hectares of forests, mangroves, and savannas. It will also replace flooded rice paddies with dry upland rice fields, and promote adoption of efficient cook stoves to reduce the overuse of forest resources, conditional on international support.
The CAT rates (I)NDCs only on unconditional targets excl. LULUCF, and rates The Gambia’s 2025 unconditional NDC commitment “1.5°C Paris Agreement compatible,” indicating that The Gambia’s NDC is consistent with holding warming well below 2°C, and limiting warming to 1.5°C. The Gambia’s commitment does not require other countries to make comparably deeper reductions or greater effort and is in the most stringent part of its Fair Share range. If the CAT were to rate the NDC based on The Gambia’s indicated 2030 emission reduction projections, we would also rate it “1.5°C Paris Agreement compatible”.
The government has recognised that the transition to an affordable sustainable energy system is a critical milestone for the country’s socio-economic development as dependence on imported fuel oil has become a burden on the Gambian economy (IRENA 2013). To ignite this transition, in 2013 The Gambian government enacted the New Renewable Energy law to implement a feed-in tariff for renewable energy sources, and to establish a renewable energy fund to promote the use of such sources (Government of The Gambia 2013). Due to a lack of recent information, there is some uncertainty about the current implementation status of this legislation (REN21 2017).
To meet its conditional target and give confidence to international investors, the Gambian government announced, in its Sustainable Energy Action Plan (Government of The Gambia, 2015), specific renewable energy and energy efficiency targets for 2020 and 2030, and declared the measures it would deploy to reach those targets. Since these measures will be implemented only if The Gambia receives enough international funds and technical support and there is no sign of such investment, we do not include them in the current policy projections yet. Nevertheless, these measures set the stage for a potentially rapid implementation of its conditional NDC provided that international financial resources are mobilised.