Uganda targets 22% emissions cut to achieve low-carbon growth

Nov 16, 2015

Hon Professor Ephraim Kamuntu, Minister for Water and Environment, signing a painting to affirm Uganda's commitment to transition to a low-carbon economy wiht 22 percent target reduction by 2030. Looking on is Head of Delegation for the European Union in Uganda, Ambassador Kristian Schmidt; and Onesimus Muhwezi, UNDP Team Leader, Energy and Environment (Photo: UNDP Uganda 2015)

As the world prepares to adopt a new legally binding climate agreement at the 21st Conference of the Parties (COP21) annual meeting in December 2015, the Government of Uganda has committed to reducing carbon emissions by 22% in a bid to mitigate and adapt to climate change and transit to a low-carbon climate-resilient economy.

This follows the submission in mid October, of the country’s climate action plan, also called Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDC) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) Secretariat for discussion in the COP21 meeting. Uganda’s INDCs commit to a 22 percent emission cuts on a business as usual basis by 2030 due to a series of policies and measures in the energy, forestry and wetland sectors and complimented by additional measures in climate smart agriculture and transport. The INDCs also propose reducing vulnerability and addressing adaptation in different priority sectors, including agriculture, water, infrastructure (including human settlements, social infrastructure and transport), health and risk management (particularly in urban areas).

These actions will among others result in achieving a total of at least 3,200 Mega Watts renewable electricity generation capacity by 2030, up from 729 Mega Watts in 2013. They will also result in reversing deforestation trend and increasing forest cover to 21 percent in 2030, from approximately 14 percent in 2013. This will be achieved through forest protection, afforestation and sustainable biomass production measures. The wetland coverage is projected to increase to 12 percent by 2030, from approximately 10.9 percent in 2014, through demarcation, gazettement and restoration of degraded wetlands.

Commitment to emissions cuts and adaptation in key sectors

The Government has committed to allocating modest resources to implement climate change-relevant strategies in mitigation and adaptation towards the target of 30 percent incremental costs in the next 15 years. The rest is conditional on receiving sufficient international support by at least 70 percent. The National Climate Change Policy and Costed Implementation Strategy estimated that Uganda would require USD 2.9 billion over the next 15 years to address the impacts of climate change in addition to the existing interventions. This represents approximately 1.2 percent of the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) per annum over the next 15 years (GDP at market prices as of 2011).

The total cost in the adaptation priority sectors is estimated at around USD 2.4 billion over the next 15 years. Although the total costs of the activities in the priority mitigation sectors are uncertain, the upfront capital investment for the renewable energy installations has been estimated at USD 5.4 billion over the next 10 years. Additionally, the initial Costed Plan for the National Climate Change Policy indicates costs of around USD 36 million over the next ten years for the implementation of measures in the forestry sector.

Uganda has one of the lowest greenhouse gas emissions per capita in the world, estimated at 1.39 tons carbon dioxide. This is far below the global average of approximately 7.99 tons of carbon dioxide. Inspite of this, the country is very much committed to fulfill its INDC obligation as part of a global effort to reduce emission, to realise Goal 13 of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. Over 150 countries have so far submitted their INDCs or contributions to the global reduction of emissions that are expected to form basis of the COP21 agreement. They detail how far countries are prepared to go in the fight against climate change, taking into account their domestic circumstances and capabilities.

This is in line with the 2009 Copenhagen (COP15) agreement that decided that each country would propose a national contribution towards reducing greenhouse gas emissions and to keep global warming to 2°C compared to the preindustrial era. All the 195 UNFCCC countries, including Uganda pledged to do so. According to the research of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), a temperature increase of over 2°C would lead to serious consequences, such as a greater frequency of extreme climate events.

Towards a green growth and development

In order to achieve the emission targets proposed in the INDCs, Uganda is also working to complete its Green Growth Development Strategy ahead of the COP21. The strategy will describe how the country will transit to a sustainable development pathway that decouples economic growth from Greenhouse gas emission-intensive actions. It will also address broader issues, in the context of poverty eradication and sustainable development. The strategy proposes climate change adaptation and mitigation actions.

While launching the process of developing the Uganda Green Growth Development Strategy (UGGDS) at the EU/UNDP/Government of Uganda Climate Diplomacy meeting in Kampala on 30th October 2015, the Minister of Water and Environment, Honorable Emphraim Kamuntu said unsustainable use of the environmental and climate resources is an all-encompassing threat to development. “It is a threat to our security, our health and challenges our very own survival and existence”, he added.

Mr. Kamuntu also said the UGGDS will ensure low-carbon extension of electricity to rural areas. “Although we are at the equator and should harness solar energy, we lack the scientific knowledge to do so,” he said. He appealed to development partners to support Uganda in pursuing green development through technology transfer and financing. Mr. Kamuntu emphasised that Uganda was committed to contributing to a global consensus in the December 2015 agreement in accordance with the Adis Ababa Agenda 2015.

This article was written by Ms. Rachel Nandelenga, Communications and Knowledge Management Specialist, Low Emissions Capacity Building Programme. She can be contacted on email :

For more information, contact

Martha Bbosa,                                                                                                    Manager Low Emission Capacity Building Project,                                                               Tel: +256 414112100,                                                                                                   Mobile: +256716005159,                                                                                           Email:                                                                                  Web:  

Chebet Maikut,
UNFCCC National Focal Point/Head of Climate Change Department
Ministry of Water and Environment,
P.O. Box 28119 Kampala, Uganda,
Tel: +256-392-965344,
Mob. +256-752-609414,
Fax: +256-414-346530,

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