With oil production having reached a record level in 2019, Kazakhstan is deepening its dependence on fossil fuels and failing to take steps towards achieving a Paris Agreement-compatible emissions pathway. Kazakhstan looks set to miss its Paris Agreement target, which is rated “Insufficient,” by a wide margin. If the CAT were to rate Kazakhstan’s current policies, they would be rated as “Highly Insufficient”. Prioritising the modernisation of existing coal plants, as well as planning to replace some coal capacity with natural gas, is short-sighted, considering that gas is not a solution for the deep decarbonisation needed to keep warming to 1.5˚C.
In 2020, Kazakhstan’s emissions are projected to decline by 3-5% below 2019 levels due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Similarly, fossil fuel production in Kazakhstan is expected to decline because of the pandemic, but is projected to return to 2019 levels around 2025. Based on the 2019 share of renewable electricity in Kazakhstan’s electricity mix, the country will not achieve its renewable energy target of 3% by 2020, also indicating difficulties for reaching its targets of 10% by 2030 and 50% by 2050.
On a more positive note, the Kazakhstan Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) resumed operation in 2018 after a one-year hiatus. Following two successful renewable energy auctions in 2018, the third auction in September 2019 was awarded to a 48MW wind power plant project that should be ready in 2022. The current Phase 3 of the ETS runs until the end of 2020. It includes a cap of 485.9 MtCO2 for the period between 2018 and end of 2020, targeting emissions from 225 installations that belong to participating 129 companies. The carbon price under the ETS is 1.14USD/tCO2. Whether Kazakhstan will continue the ETS with a new phase is unknown.
In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Kazakhstan has announced it will increase exports of oil and gas. The Kazakh government also announced a recovery package of roughly USD 14 billion, but it did not include specific references to energy or climate targets. The Kazakh economy has been hit by the pandemic but is also projected to make a fast recovery from 2021.
According to our analysis and in part due to the COVID-19 related economic downturn, Kazakhstan’s currently implemented policies would lead to a 3-5% reduction in emissions from 1990 levels by 2020 (381-389 MtCO2e - excluding LULUCF). However, an increase of 6-9% above 1990 levels by 2030 is projected (426-439 MtCO2e - excluding LULUCF). Kazakhstan’s currently implemented policies are far from sufficient to meet its targets—if the CAT were to rate Kazakhstan’s projected emission levels under current policies for 2030, Kazakhstan would be rated “Highly insufficient”.
Kazakhstan’s Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) contains an unconditional target to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 15% below 1990 levels by 2030, including emissions from land use, land-use change and forestry (LULUCF). If emissions from the LULUCF sector are excluded, this target is equivalent to an emissions reduction of 17% below 1990 level. Based on this unconditional NDC target, we rate Kazakhstan “Insufficient.” The “Insufficient” rating indicates that Kazakhstan’s climate plans are not consistent with holding warming to below 2°C, let alone limiting it to 1.5°C as required under the Paris Agreement, and is instead consistent with warming between 2°C and 3°C.
Kazakhstan also has a conditional target of reducing emissions (including LULUCF) by 25% below 1990 levels by 2030 (equivalent to 26% below 1990 levels excluding LULUCF). 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”.