Current Policy Projections
The CAT’s current policy projections for Kenya covers a range of GHG emissions pathways.
Due to a lack of clarity around climate policies and the state of their implementation, the CAT uses the 2017 Update of Kenya’s Emissions Baseline Projections as the upper bound of its current policy scenario. Overall, the change in emissions is significant. Excluding the land sector, Kenya is on track to achieve its NDC without further policy measures. Including the land sector, this trajectory is 14% below the original BAU projection (MENR, 2017a).
The lower bound of the current policy projections builds on the 2017 Update but includes the current emissions reductions pathways and/or targets for the following three sectors:
- Electricity supply sector with the emissions pathway taken from the latest publicly available electricity supply plan (2017-2037 LCPDP);
- Transport sector with a 2030 emissions reductions target taken from the sector’s Climate Change Annual Report 2018/2019;
- Agriculture sector with a 2026 emissions reductions target taken from Kenya’s Climate Smart Agriculture Strategy 2017-2026.
Our calculations of current policies based on international third-party sources (IEA and US EPA) resulted in emission levels that fall in the range of our current policy projections which are based on national sources, following a trajectory similar to our lower bound of current policy projections (IEA, 2019; U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, 2019).
Before the COVID-19 pandemic, the CAT’s current policy projections for Kenya were estimated to reach emissions levels of 65 to 73 MtCO2e in 2020, excluding LULUCF. For 2030, the current policy analysis estimated emissions to be 75 to 110 MtCO2e, excluding LULUCF.
The CAT estimates that Kenya’s emissions may further decrease towards 2030 by around 3% to 6% below our current policy projections when taking into account the potential impact of COVID-19.
The COVID-19 impact on Kenya’s economy and subsequently on its emissions remains subject to high uncertainty. According to official statistics, relatively few people in Kenya have been infected with the COVID-19 virus and the death rate has been below average compared to other countries. By October 2020, around 45,000 people were infected and 900 people had died from the virus (Brown, 2020; Worldometer, 2020).
The Kenyan government declared the pandemic as a “Formidable Epidemic Disease” on 27 March 2020, 16 days after the WHO had declared the coronavirus as a global pandemic. In connection with this decision, the Kenyan government introduced a set of restrictions and social distancing protocols, such as the closure of educational institutions, suspension of national and international flights and passenger railway, reduction of public transportation capacity to below 60%, movement restrictions from and to major cities as well as recommendation to work and stay at home (Kihiu et al., 2020). The main drivers of the reduction in economic activity are the drops in labor productivity, in export commodities and in tourism. The changes to the international context will likely yield a lower demand for Kenya’s top export commodities (cut flowers, tea, coffee and fruits), while border restrictions will have an impact on the regional trade of livestock (Kihiu et al., 2020).
The CAT estimates a drop in emissions in 2020 by 4% lower than 2019 under the lower range of the current policy projections due to a slowdown of domestic economic activity and international trade. Under the upper range of current policy projections emissions in 2020 would increase slightly by 2% compared to a previously estimated increase of 6% from 2019 to 2020 in the pre-COVID-19 scenario.
National and international sources estimate that annual GDP growth will slow to 0.6% - 2.5% in 2020 and rebound to 4.7%-5.8% in 2021 (AFDB, 2020; IMF, 2020; MyGov, 2020).
The government announced several measures, focused on health care, social protection and fiscal measures, to support the recovery of economic activities implemented through the Tax Laws (Amendment) Act 2020, the COVID-19 Spending Plan and the Economic Stimulus Plan. Climate change-related aspects are, however, not explicitly covered in the country’s recovery plans, which in addition to the above mainly support employment creation and youth empowerment, which are also key drivers of the President’s Big Four Agenda (MyGov, 2020).
Provided that Kenya achieves its transport and agriculture targets and does not proceed with plans to build a new coal-fired power plant, it will overachieve its NDC. The pandemic puts even further downwards pressure on this emissions trajectory.
As of 2019, the installed grid capacity in Kenya was 2,651 MW, with a peak load of 1,912 MW (Matters Engineering, 2020). The energy mix in Kenya is dominated by renewable energy technologies (over 85% of installed capacity in 2019) with geothermal and hydro accounting for 45% and 28% of total installed capacity, respectively (Business Daily Africa, 2020). Wind power generation also significantly increased from 0.3% in 2018 to 14% in 2019 (EPRA, 2019a). This is mainly attributed to the additional wind power from Lake Turkana Wind Farm, Africa’s largest wind power project and the single largest private investment in Kenya’s history (Swedfund, 2017).
In 2018, the government announced that the country will be powered entirely by green energy by the end of 2020. This goal was not fully achieved as thermal plants still account for 10% of the installed capacity (Business Daily Africa, 2020; Capital FM Kenya, 2018). However, these announcements are in stark contrast to plans to explore the use of fossil energy resources in the future.
In Kenya, the government has the distinct ability to steer electricity generation projects, as most of the country’s energy sector institutions are either fully or partially state-owned. The Least Cost Power Development Plan (LCPDP), which is coordinated and published by the Energy and Petroleum Regulatory Authority (EPRA), is the major planning process in the electricity supply sector in Kenya and deals with capacity planning, demand projections and transmission investment requirements summarised in a 20-year rolling plan on a biennial basis (Republic of Kenya, 2018). The latest publicly available edition covers the period between 2017-2037. The 2019-2039 LCPDP was nearing completion but needs to be revised again to take into account the effects of the pandemic on the demand forecast.
In 2019, Kenya’s new Energy Act was passed into law. The Energy Act 2019 consolidates laws relating to the promotion of renewable energy (anchoring the Renewable Energy Feed-in-Tariff-System), matters related to geothermal energy, and the regulation of petroleum and coal activities, among others. The Act contains neither a target for sectoral emissions reductions nor a reference to climate mitigation (EPRA, 2019c). In 2020, the EPRA has published draft solar PV regulations for public review and comment, which seek to update the regulatory regime to account for developments in the sector, including the maturation of the solar PV industry (EPRA, 2019b).
The government’s Finance Bill 2020 foresees the introduction of taxes on clean cooking and solar energy products, this would significantly water down the gains towards access to modern energy for all. Manufacturers estimate that this measure would reduce the growth from 30% annually to 10% causing corresponding job losses in the sector (The Standard, 2020).
Kenya has coal resources which have not been exploited thus far. This is likely to change, should its coal-powered plant programme go ahead. To date, coal-based power generation has not been deployed in East Africa (Mpungu, 2019). This will change if Kenya implements its plans to build the Lamu coal power plant, a 981 MW power plant to be commissioned by 2024, and a 960 MW coal-fired power plant in Kitui, which is scheduled for 2034-36, according to Kenya’s long-term energy supply plan (2017 – 2037 LCPDP) (Republic of Kenya, 2018).
The implementation of the Lamu coal power plant has, however, suffered a series of setbacks in recent years. The project has been embroiled in controversy and court cases since the power generation license was awarded. In June 2019, environmental activists scored a big win against the power plant when the Kenyan National Environment Tribunal withdrew the plant’s Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) licence. The project developer Amu Power appealed the decision and the matter is still pending in court (Matters Engineering, 2020).
In November 2019, the African Development Bank announced it would not fund the project, in line with the bank’s plans to not fund any future coal projects (Winning, 2019). In addition, Amu Power has not yet secured a partial risk guarantee which is required to access funds from lenders, such as the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China, that had agreed to provide funding (Business Daily Africa, 2020).
In September 2020, the American conglomerate General Electric (GE) that was meant to design, construct and maintain the power plant announced that it intends to exit the new-build coal power market, which would include the Lamu coal power plant (Business Daily Africa, 2020). According to local campaign group Save Lamu, the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (ICBC) decided in November 2020 not to finance the Lamu coal plant due to environmental and social risks associated with the project (Save Lamu, 2020).
Across Africa, existing coal power generation would need to be phased out by 2034 to be compatible with the Paris Agreement (Yanguas Parra et al., 2019). Clearly, building new coal-fired power plants Kenya is inconsistent with that goal.
Any new coal fired power stations built in Kenya will be underutilised due to a lack of demand. Under the most recent 20-year power plan, the proposed Lamu coal-fired power plant will have an average capacity factor of 8%, due to its economic disadvantages compared to other planned generation options and significant downward revisions in demand projections compared to previous versions of the planning document (Republic of Kenya, 2018).
According to the 2018-2022 National Climate Change Action Plan (NCCAP), the priority mitigation action for the electricity supply sector is developing 2,405 MW of new grid-connected renewable electricity generation and retiring three thermal plants, with a total abatement potential of 9.89 MtCO2e (Government of Kenya, 2018).
The planned increase in grid-connected renewable electricity generation is reflected in the 2017-2037 LCPDP (Republic of Kenya, 2018). However, the plans of the government to retire three grid-connected thermal plants (Kipevu: 120 MW in 2019; IberAfrica: 108.05 MW in 2019 and Tsavo: 74 MW in 2021) are not entirely reflected in the 2017-2037 LCPDP. So far, only the diesel-fired IberAfrica 1 with a net capacity of 56 MW has been retired in 2019. IberAfrica 2 (52.5 MW) is due for decommissioning in 2034. Also, the decommissioning of the oil-fired Kipevu plant is not on track, with Kipevu 1 (60 MW) and Kipevu 3 (115 MW) due in 2023 and 2031, respectively. The decommissioning of the oil-fired Tsavo plant (74 MW) is planned for 2021 and thus in line with the plan (Kwame, 2020).
Notwithstanding the partly missed target for retiring thermal plants, the sector is on track to exceed its emission reductions goal to reduce 10 MtCO2e by 2030, corresponding to 22% of the overall abatement task (MENR, 2017a). This is mainly due to the much lower demand projections as well as the restricted amount of generation from new coal capacity. The current pathway for electricity supply emissions under the most recent power plan (2017-2037 LCPDP) projects emissions to decrease to 0.3 MtCO2e in 2030 compared to an anticipated increase to 44.7 MtCO2e in 2030 in the NDC baseline (Republic of Kenya, 2018). This development would ultimately ensure that Kenya reaches or even overachieves its NDC target, although not all sectors achieve their emissions reductions target, as the following sections will indicate.
Energy demand is divided among three main types of energy carriers: fossil fuels, biomass and electricity. Fossil fuels and biomass are used to produce heat. Kenyans rely on the traditional use of biomass as the primary energy source for heating and cooking. About 87% of the rural population uses firewood for cooking and 82% of the urban population uses charcoal for cooking (MENR, 2017b).
Charcoal production is governed in Kenya by the Charcoal Rules, under the Forest Act 2005, although it occurs almost entirely in the informal sector (SEI, 2013). The government, in partnership with stakeholders, has taken several energy efficiency and conservation initiatives. The Ministry of Energy has worked with the Kenya Association of Manufacturers (KAM) to establish a Centre for Energy Efficiency and Conservation that promotes energy efficiency in private sector companies and public institutions such as government buildings. The Ministry of Energy has further implemented improved cookstoves programmes, and developed regulations that influence the uptake of climate related technologies, such as solar water heating, solar PV systems and cookstoves. Kenya Power, a national electric utility company, has implemented a programme to distribute compact fluorescent lights (MENR, 2017b).
EPRA has developed updated energy management regulations which have been shared with the public for comments. The Draft Energy Management Regulations 2020 propose changes for energy audits by, inter alia, suggesting the introduction of accredited Energy Service Companies (ESCO) and energy savings certification which can be traded under the Energy Act 2019 (EPRA, 2020).
The priority mitigation actions for the energy demand subsector are related to the development and distribution of improved biomass (charcoal and biomass) and clean energy (LPG, biogas and ethanol) stoves with a total abatement potential of 7.64 MtCO2e by 2030 (Government of Kenya, 2018).
According to our current policy projections, absolute emissions in the energy demand sector are projected to grow to 12 MtCO2e in 2030, which is more than anticipated in the NDC baseline where absolute emissions from the energy demand subsector are projected to grow from 7.1 MtCO2e in 2015 to 10.6 MtCO2e in 2030 (MENR, 2017a).
The sector’s NDC target is to reduce emissions by 6.5 MtCO2e by 2030, corresponding to 14% of the overall abatement task (Republic of Kenya, 2015). Taking into account the difference between the NDC baseline and current policy projections, the total emissions reductions in the energy demand sector would need to be 7.9 MtCO2e by 2030 in order to achieve the NDC target. Thus, the priority mitigation actions indicated in the NCCAP 2018-2022 are insufficient.
Agriculture is the largest source of Kenya’s emissions and is expected to remain so in 2030, though it could fall to second place if Kenya pursues its coal plant plans (MENR, 2017a).
A sound agriculture sector is a priority of the Kenyan government because of its importance for food security, rural livelihoods and poverty alleviation. Agriculture is the most important sector for Kenya’s economy accounting for 52% of the GDP and 56% of employment in 2018 (African Development Bank, 2020).
The main policy goals of the sector, comprised under the Agriculture Sector Development Strategy 2010-2020 and the Kenyan Climate Smart Agriculture Strategy (CSA) 2016-2027, are related to increasing agricultural productivity and production and promoting commercialisation as well as promoting sustainable land and natural resource management (FAPDA, 2013; Ministry of Agriculture, 2018). The CSA Strategy is considered a tool to implement sectoral activities in contribution to Kenya’s NDC (Ministry of Agriculture, 2018). It aims to enable adaption to climate change, build the resilience of agricultural systems for enhanced food and nutritional security and improved livelihoods, and at the same time minimise emissions. The Strategy formulates the goal of reducing sectoral emissions to 32.2 MtCO2e in 2026 relative to 39.8 MtCO2e in the BAU scenario in the same year (conditional to domestic and international support) (Ministry of Agriculture, 2018).
The priority mitigation actions for the agriculture sector are agroforestry (with an abatement potential of 3.99 MtCO2e by 2030), increased farm area under sustainable land management (0.83 MtCO2e) and the implementation of Kenya’s Dairy NAMA (0.74 MtCO2e) (Government of Kenya, 2018). Agroforestry has by far the highest abatement potential and can be considered the interface between agriculture and forestry and encompasses mixed land-use practices. It is distinct from forestry mitigation actions as it targets lands that are currently in use for agriculture. This mitigation action encourages compliance with the Agricultural Farm Forestry Rules that require every land holder to maintain a compulsory farm tree cover of at least 10% on any agricultural land holdings (MENR, 2017b).
All mitigation actions together have an abatement potential of 5.56 MtCO2e by 2030, compared to the sector’s NDC target of reducing 3 MtCO2e by 2030 (Government of Kenya, 2018; MENR, 2017b).
According to the NDC baseline, absolute emissions from the agriculture sector are projected to grow from 34 MtCO2e in 2015 to 41.6 MtCO2e in 2030 while the contribution of agricultural emissions to total national emissions is expected to decrease from 59% in 2015 to 32% in 2030 (excl. LULUCF) (MENR, 2017a). The current pathway for agriculture emissions according to the CSA Strategy projects absolute emissions projected to grow to 31.6 MtCO2e in 2030 (Republic of Kenya, 2018).
If the sector successfully implements the measures from the NCCAP 2018-2022 and the sector’s CSA Strategy, it is likely that the sectoral target can be met.
Kenya’s industrial sector is the largest in the Eastern African region, underscoring the importance of the sector to the economy of Kenya and neighbouring countries. In 2019, the industrial sector contributed 16% to Kenya’s GDP, the third-largest after agriculture and services (Statista, 2019). Industrial process emissions in Kenya are dominated by the cement and charcoal manufacturing industries (MENR, 2017b). The manufacture of cement is identified as a core industrial sector, with a growing demand for cement from within Kenya and from neighbouring countries. Charcoal production uses mainly traditional inefficient technologies and the sector remains largely informal (MENR, 2017b).
The only priority mitigation action for the industrial processes sector indicated in the NCCAP 2018-2022 relates to the implementation of the NAMA for Kenya’s charcoal sector with an abatement potential of 1.2 MtCO2e by 2030. Cement manufacturers have been shifting to coal to reduce costs, making the sector a significant potential consumer of domestic coal once Kenya begins to mine its own reserves. This development wipes out the potential for reducing emissions through energy efficiency improvements in the cement sector, which was previously estimated at 0.22 MtCO2e (MENR, 2017b). This action has therefore not been prioritised in the NCCAP 2018-2022 (Government of Kenya, 2018).
According to the NDC baseline, absolute emissions from the industrial processes sector are projected to grow from 3.3 MtCO2e in 2015 to 5.9 MtCO2e in 2030 while the contribution of industrial process emissions to total national emissions is expected to roughly remain at 6% (excl. LULUCF) (MENR, 2017a). Under the current policy projection, absolute emissions are projected to grow to 6.7 MtCO2e in 2030 (MENR, 2017a).
The sector’s NDC target is to reduce emissions by 0.8 MtCO2e by 2030, corresponding to 2% of the overall emissions reduction target of 30% by 2030 (MENR, 2017b). Taking into account the difference between the NDC baseline and current policy projections, the total emissions reductions in the industrial processes sector would need to be 2.6 MtCO2e by 2030 in order to achieve the NDC target. Thus, the priority mitigation actions indicated in the NCCAP 2018-2022 are insufficient.
Kenya has experienced high rates of urbanisation and development, but transport systems and infrastructure have not kept pace. Traffic conditions in Nairobi and other major cities are characterised by congested and unsafe roadways that contribute to local air pollution and significant economic losses (MENR, 2017b).
Four priority mitigation actions were identified by sector experts in the NCCAP 2018-2022. The option with the largest mitigation potential is the implementation of the Mass Rapid Transport System for Greater Nairobi with an abatement potential of 2.47 MtCO2e. Feasibility studies have been conducted for three lines. Construction is underway for one line, while a tender process is ongoing for another line. The funding request for the third line has been presented to the Cabinet for considerations and approval (Government of Kenya, 2019). The other options include a transfer of freight from road to rail between Nairobi and Mombasa (1.18 MtCO2e), improvement of the heavy-duty truck efficiency (1.04 MtCO2e) and the electrification of the SGR line between Nairobi and Mombasa which is currently run by diesel rail cars (0.34 MtCO2e) (Government of Kenya, 2018). The assumption behind the above-mentioned abatement potentials is that Kenya’s energy mix was to remain dominated by renewable energy technologies, such as geothermal or hydropower.
All mitigation actions together have an abatement potential of 5.04 MtCO2e, against a sectoral target of 3.7 MtCO2e.
The transport sector, with support from GIZ, was the first and so far only sector to meet the regular reporting and progress tracking requirements of the Climate Change Act (Government of Kenya, 2019).
According to the NDC baseline, absolute emissions from the transport sector are projected to grow from 9.8 MtCO2e in 2015 to 22.6 MtCO2e in 2030 mainly because of an increase in the number of passenger and freight vehicles on the road (MENR, 2017a). The current pathway for transport emissions according to the sector’s Climate Change Annual Report projects absolute emissions to grow to 18.9 MtCO2e in 2030 (Government of Kenya, 2019).
If the sector successfully implements the measures from the NCCAP 2018-2022 and the sector’s Climate Change Annual Report, it is likely that the sectoral target can be met.
Considerable deforestation has occurred in Kenya over the last 20 to 30 years, though there is high uncertainty regarding the exact forest coverage in the country and the rates of deforestation. Between 1990 and 2000, forest land in Kenya decreased by 27% from 4,724,000 ha to 3,437,000 ha; though it has increased again to 4,037,000 ha in 2010 (FAO, 2015). 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 (Gichu & Chapman, 2014).
Sustainable and productive management of land and land resources is enshrined in the country’s Constitution, adopted in 2010, which establishes a tree cover target of at least 10% of the country’s land area. The Constitution further states that land in Kenya shall be held, used and managed in a manner that is equitable, efficient, productive and sustainable, and entrenches sound conservation and protection of ecologically sensitive areas (National Council, 2010).
The Forest Conservation and Management Act 2016 provides for the development and sustainable management of all forest resources. The Act classifies forests as public, community or private forests. Public forests are vested in the Kenya Forest Service (KFS), community forests are vested in the community, and each County Government is responsible for the protection and management of forests and woodlands under its jurisdiction (Republic of Kenya, 2016a).
The Act also indicates that indigenous forests and woodlands are to be managed on a sustainable basis for, inter alia, carbon sequestration.
According to the NDC baseline, the LULUCF sector is the second largest contributor to Kenya’s GHG emissions after agriculture, largely as a result of deforestation. Absolute emissions from the LULUCF sector are projected to decrease from 26 MtCO2e in 2015 to 22 MtCO2e in 2030 and the contribution of this sector to total national emissions is expected to drop from 31% in 2015 to 14% in 2030 (MENR, 2017a).
The sector’s NDC target is to reduce emissions by 20.1 MtCO2e by 2030, corresponding to 47% of the overall abatement task (Republic of Kenya, 2015).
The priority mitigation actions for the LULUCF sector are the restoration of forests on degraded lands (with a total abatement potential of 14 MtCO2e by 2030), afforestation and agroforestry (4.8 MtCO2e) and reducing deforestation and forest degradation by rehabilitation and protection of natural forests (2 MtCO2e) (Government of Kenya, 2018). All mitigation options together have an abatement potential of 20.8 MtCO2e.
The NCCAP 2018-2022 proposes to restore around 40,000 ha per year, resulting in a total of 480,000 ha to be restored by 2030. This is significantly less than the 1.2 million ha that was assumed in the previous NCCAP 2013-2017 (Government of Kenya, 2018). The reassessment of the number of hectares of land to be restored per year correspondingly affected the estimated abatement potential of this mitigation action, reducing it from 32.6 MtCO2e (NCCAP 2013-2017) to 14 MtCO2e (NCCAP 2018-2022) by 2030.
Despite the downward adjustment of abatement potential from restoration of forest on degraded lands, the abatement potential of the remaining priority mitigation actions would be sufficient to meet the sectoral target.
The need for adequate waste treatment is accentuated by the growing industrialisation of the Kenyan economy. Waste management in Kenya is regulated at the national level by the Environmental Management and Co-ordination (Waste Management) Regulations 2006 (Republic of Kenya, 2006). The regulations stipulate measures and standards that Counties are to comply with in managing waste. In March 2017, the Ministry of Environment and Forestry introduced a ban on the manufacture, use and importation of plastic bags use for commercial and household packaging. Waste produces GHG emissions mainly through the processes of disposal, treatment, recycling and incineration (Government of Kenya, 2018; MENR, 2017b).
According to the NCCAP 2018-2022, there is only one mitigation action for the waste sector which is related to the ongoing Solid Waste NAMA with landfill gas capture and its utilisation for energy. The NAMA has a goal of 30% waste recovery and 70% controlled dumping by 2022.
According to Kenya’s NDC baseline, absolute emissions from the waste sector are projected to grow from 2.6 MtCO2e in 2015 to 5.2 MtCO2e in 2030 while their contribution to total national emissions is expected to remain at 4% (excl. LULUCF) (MENR, 2017a). Under the current policy projection, absolute emissions in the waste sector are projected to grow to 5.1 MtCO2e in 2030 (MENR, 2017a).
With the priority mitigation option fully implemented, the waste sector would be able to deliver 0.49 MtCO2e by 2030 and meet its 2030 sector emissions reduction target of reducing emissions by 0.4 MtCO2e (Government of Kenya, 2018).