Kenya’s domestic efforts to meet the objectives of the Paris Agreement are in line with its fair share due to its limited responsibility and capability, but could still be significantly improved: the unconditional emissions reduction target is well overachieved by the policies that are already implemented. Kenya would also have to propose a more ambitious conditional target that it would be ready to achieve provided significant international support. We rate Kenya’s current conditional NDC target as “Critically insufficient” when compared to modelled domestic pathways.
Kenya submitted its updated NDC with a slightly stronger target in December 2020, committing to reducing emissions by 32% below BAU by 2030 (including LULUCF), with 21% of the mitigation cost not conditional on international financial support. While Kenya’s policies and unconditional target are rated 1.5°C compatible, there is still significant potential for Kenya to strive for further emissions reductions in all sectors.
Kenya has significant renewable energy capacity. In 2021, more than 90% of generated electricity came from renewable sources. However, the country’s long-term energy planning still accounts for coal making up 12% of the energy mix by 2040. While efforts to halt the development of the Lamu coal-fired power plant have been successful, the future of the Kitui coal-fired power plant is still unclear. If successful, this will be Kenya’s first coal-fired power plant.
Although COVID-19 recovery efforts were mainly focused on socio-economic factors, some steps have been taken towards climate action over the past two years. In 2020, the Ministry of Energy released the Kenya National Energy Efficiency and Conservation Strategy, establishing energy efficiency targets in the buildings, industry, agriculture, transport, and power sectors to meet the goal of reducing the national energy intensity by 2.8% a year. In 2021, the Ministry of Environment and Forestry introduced the Sustainable Waste Management Act to progress the solid waste NAMA.
In 2021, the Kenyan parliament proposed an amendment to the Forest Conservation and Management Bill that would open the door for further deforestation. Since the LULUCF sector will account for around half of Kenya’s emissions reductions, the new amendment could put Kenya’s climate targets at considerable risk.
The CAT rates Kenya’s climate targets and policies as overall “Almost sufficient”. Kenya’s policies and unconditional target meet its fair-share contribution to limiting warming to 1.5°C. However, Kenya’s target with international support is currently only compatible with 4°C of warming or higher, and should be strengthened. The strong difference in the two ratings reflects Kenya’s situation as a country with strong development needs and a small historical responsibility, but with relevant mitigation potential in its own territory, which could be exploited to a large extent with international support.
There is significant scope for the government to increase its climate ambition as sectors are likely to exceed their current climate targets based on the emissions reduction potential of prioritised mitigation actions. CAT rates Kenya’s policies and action as 1.5°C compatible when compared to its fair contribution. However, there is significant potential for mitigation actions to go beyond Kenya’s fair share with the help of international support.
Kenya’s energy future is at a crossroads: while renewable energy accounts for 85% of installed capacity, just short of the government’s target of being powered entirely by green energy by 2020, there are still plans to incorporate coal and natural gas into the energy mix in the long term. While plans to revive the development of the Lamu power plant have been cancelled, the future of the Kitui coal plant is still unclear.
While measures to meet emission reduction targets for the electricity supply, transport, and agriculture sectors are underway, it is unclear to what extent other mitigation actions outlined in the National Climate Change Action Plan (NCCAP) are being implemented. The recent National Energy Efficiency and Conservation Strategy and Sustainable Waste Management Act still await corresponding implementation plans, but would result in emissions reductions in the energy demand and waste sectors, respectively.
We rate Kenya’s conditional NDC as “Critically insufficient” when compared to modelled domestic pathways. The “Critically insufficient” rating indicates that Kenya’s conditional target in 2030 reflects minimal to no action and is not at all consistent with the 1.5°C temperature limit. If all countries were to follow Kenya’s approach, warming would exceed 4°C. Kenya should improve its conditional target and specify support needs to achieve it. Already a small improvement in the target would change the rating to “Highly Insufficient”.
We rate Kenya’s unconditional NDC target as “1.5°C compatible” when compared to their fair share contribution to climate change mitigation. The “1.5°C compatible” rating indicates that Kenya’s target that it wants to achieve through its own efforts is consistent with limiting warming to 1.5°C and does not require other countries to make comparably deeper reductions.
Kenya’s emissions from Land-use, land-use change and forestry have contributed to almost one third of the country’s total emissions over the last 20 years on average. The major reasons for deforestation are the conversion of forest land to agriculture, unsustainable utilisation of forest products (including charcoal), forest fires and shifting cultivation.