Net zero carbon emission target achievable for Nepal with strong government commitment

From 1990 to 2012, motorized vehicles increased by four-folds in Nepal, resulting in massive carbon emissions. Photo:

Ashim Neupane

  • Read Time 3 min.

Kathmandu: At COP26 in 2021, Nepal announced an ambitious net-zero carbon emissions target. Nepal unveiled its long-term strategy, aiming to achieve carbon neutrality by 2045, or even sooner, and negative carbon emissions by 2050. In Glasgow, Nepal committed to reducing carbon emissions, striving to achieve carbon negativity by 2045, halting deforestation, and increasing forest cover to 45 percent by 2030.

Experts say that Nepal is well on track to achieve these goals, but there is a need for continued government commitment.

To achieve the same, the government, in 2021, released its second Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) to achieve targets by 2030 including ensuring that 15 percent of the total energy demand comes from clean sources, increasing the sale of electric vehicles to cover 90 percent of all private vehicle sales, and maintaining 45 percent of the total land area under forest covers. The total cost of implementing the NDC Implementation Plan from 2021 to 2030 is USD 33.04 billion, according to the government.

The second NDC has set a target to increase electric vehicle sales to 90 percent of private passenger vehicles, including two-wheelers, by 2030. It also states 60 percent of all sales of public passenger vehicles on four wheels will be electric by the end of the decade.

According to environmentalist Bhusan Tuladhar, Nepal can achieve the targets by 2045, or even earlier, but it requires a lot of commitment. “Nepal has already released short-term and long-term targets for the same, but the government needs to work according to the targets,” he said, adding that the adoption of electric vehicles is good and in line with the target.

“The carbon emissions from vehicles with diesel engines are significant in Nepal. The electrification of private vehicles is satisfactory, but Nepal needs to consider electrifying public transportation vehicles.”

In the realm of cooking, Tuladhar pointed out the importance of making induction stoves accessible in every nook and corner of the country. Regarding the agricultural sector, Nepal can utilize the System of Rice Intensification (SRI) technique. This method is a practical and attractive option for rice-producing countries to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions associated with rice cultivation and to adapt to climate impacts, he said.

According to Nawaraj Dhakal, the executive director at the Alternative Energy Promotion Center, Nepal has been concentrating on three key areas to achieve its target by 2045. Firstly, in renewable energy, the focus is on the construction of micro and mini hydro projects. Secondly, in cooking, traditional biomass and firewood are currently being used, with the aim to achieve 25 percent electric cooking by 2030. Thirdly, in the transport sector, the government aims to promote the adoption of electric vehicles, while in the industry sector, coal and diesel are being replaced by clean energy sources.

“The recent census report indicates that 54 percent of the population relies on traditional biomass, while 44 percent use LPG for cooking. It’s important to promote electric cooking and biogas for clean cooking solutions. Also, improved cooking stoves serve as an interim solution for households unable to transition to electricity and biogas immediately,” he said.

The share of traditional biomass in the total energy consumption in Nepal stood at 66 percent in 2021. Petroleum products accounted for 18 percent, followed by coal at 9 percent, electricity at 4 percent, and other renewables at 2 percent.

“Nepal aims to ensure that 15 percent of the total energy demand is supplied from renewable energy sources, including hydropower and other alternative sources. Additionally, Nepal aims to generate a total of 15,000 MW of electricity by 2030, of which 5-10 percent will be generated from mini and micro-hydropower, solar, wind, and bio-energy projects,” according to Dhakal.

According to Ganesh Karki, president of the Independent Power Producers’ Association, Nepal (IPPAN), Nepal is well on track to achieve its targets, as the country has been prioritizing clean energy initiatives. 

“We can achieve the target before the timeframe too, as by 2030 Nepal is well on track to produce 15,000 MW of electricity,” he said, emphasizing the need for Nepal to focus more on electricity production, as hydroelectricity is considered the future of the nation. “Also, Nepal possesses ample forest resources to help achieve these targets,” he concludes.