Making the transition to low carbon development is not an easy task for most countries. Angola has set ambitious targets and is on the way to achieving them.
Under the 2015 Paris Agreement, Angola committed to unconditionally reduce up to 35% of its greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 2030. It also agreed to a conditional mitigation target--an additional 15% reduction --making Angola's commitment one of the most ambitious of the 195 countries that signed the document at the 21st UN Framework Convention on Climate Change.
But Angola is also the second largest oil producer on the African continent, which begs the question: if the hydrocarbon industry is largely responsible for GHG emissions in the country, are the country's international engagements actually achievable? And if so, how?
"Angola has a five-year goal of reducing carbon intensity in electricity production. That's our contribution," says Giza Martins, director of the Climate Change Office of the Angolan Ministry of the Environment.
As a developing country, Angola has not committed to global goals. Instead, the country's proposal, Martins notes, is "circumscribed to the energy sector" and based mainly on '"the construction and startup of large hydroelectric plants". Boosting electricity production would allow the country to diversify its economy, developing its agricultural and industrial sectors to break away from its all-in-oil paradigm.
Over the last decade, more than $17bn has been invested in the renewable energy sector, which equals 35% of the country's public debt contracted until 2017. This decision relies on the hydroelectric sector to supply largely populated centres, and on solar energy systems to supply remote off-grid regions, small local networks and communal townships through the government's "Solar Villages" programme.
"These goals can be viable if there is a serious investment, not only in hydropower, as is being done with the construction of the Lauca and Caculo Cabala dams, but also with the implementation of mini-hydro, wind energy and solar systems, as stated in the 2025 Angola Energy Strategic Plan," says environmentalist and executive director of the environmental Kissama Foundation, Vladimir Russo.
Today, hydroelectric plants supply 78% of the electricity produced in the country. One year ago, the supply rate was 60%, said Angolan President Joao Lourenco, in his address to the nation last August.
By 2022, investment to increase the annual green energy output...