Short introduction on Sudan’s emissions

Although CO2 is the driving force behind the temperature changes, other gases such as methane (CH4) also contribute their share to global warming, for example through the exploitation of gas fields, and emissions by livestock. While methane is emitted much less than CO2 on a global scale, it is a much stronger greenhouse gas (GHG). Scientists estimated the relative strength of the important Kyoto greenhouse gases so that we can convert all emissions to an equivalent of CO2 emissions. For example, the emission of one ton of methane has approximately the warming effect of 25 tons of CO2. The factor of 25 reflects the climate forcing on a 100-year time horizon, following the Global Warming Potential presented in the IPCC Fourth Assessment Report (AR4).

With greenhouse gas emissions of approximately the equivalent of 108.8 mega tonnes of CO2 (Mt CO2eq), Sudan contributed 0.22% to the global greenhouse gas emissions of 2017 (rank 52 - incl. EU27 on rank 3). All emissions estimates exclude emissions and absorption from land, which result from activities such as cutting down or planting of forests (Land Use, Land-Use Change and Forestry: LULUCF). Emissions from bunker fuels (international aviation and shipping) were also excluded, as they are not accounted for in national totals.

For 2030, Sudan’s global contribution to greenhouse gas emissions is projected to stay at a similar level of approximately 0.25% (140.2 mega tonnes of CO2 equivalent / rank 51 - incl. EU27 on rank 4). The emissions projections for Sudan were derived by downscaling the Shared Socio-Economic Pathways’ (SSPs) “Middle-of-the-Road” baseline marker scenario SSP2. These pathways describe certain narratives of socio-economic developments and were, i.a., used to derive greenhouse gas emissions scenarios that correspond to these developments. SSP2 is a narrative with little shifts in socio-economic patterns compared to historical ones, and is connected to medium socio-economic challenges for both climate mitigation and adaptation. While different models were used for each storyline, per SSP (SSPs1-5) one model was chosen as representative “marker scenario”. As the emissions projections are not readily available on country-level, but national estimates are important, the pathways were downscaled in the aftermath. In 2017, Sudan represented 0.54% of the global population. Its Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in 2017 were 0.13% of the global GDP.

Looking at the highest contributing emissions sectors and gases separately, we find that in 2017 the highest contributing emissions sectors were Agriculture and Energy (69.2% and 22.2%). Amongst the greenhouse gases that are considered in the Kyoto Protocol, the strongest contributor with 55.6% was CH4. This was followed by N2O emissions, with a share of 28.3%. When not considering the sectors and gases independently, but the sector-gas combinations instead, Agriculture CH4 and Agriculture N2O (42.0% and 27.1%) represented the largest emissions in 2017.

Greenhouse gas mitigation and Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC)

In 2015, the majority of countries agreed to the Paris Agreement (PA), with the goal of “Holding the increase in the global average temperature to well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels and pursuing efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels, recognizing that this would significantly reduce the risks and impacts of climate change” (Article 2.1.a). Countries stated their pledges and targets towards achieving the PA’s goals in their Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs). With Article 4.4 of the Paris Agreement, Parties decided that “Developed country Parties should continue taking the lead by undertaking economy-wide absolute emission reduction targets. Developing country Parties should continue enhancing their mitigation efforts, and are encouraged to move over time towards economy-wide emission reduction or limitation targets in the light of different national circumstances.”

Sudan’s NDC does not contain a clear quantifiable GHG mitigation target. The country communicates that “Sudan intends to pursue implementing low carbon development interventions in three sectors of energy, forestry and waste inline with Sudan’s national development priorities, objectives and circumstances. Sudan’s intended nationally determined contribution on mitigation […] aims at contribution to the global mitigation efforts in the post-2020 period, these contributions are planned to ensure deviation from the current development trajectory to a low carbon development.” (NDC, p. 4). The intended mitigation contributions are given without quantified emissions reductions (NDC, p. 4-6), for “Energy” (“Integration of renewable energy in the power system”, “Energy efficiency”, “Electricity thermal generation using Natural Gas”), “Forestry” (“Afforestation and reforestation”, “National REDD+ strategy”), and “Waste” (“Collection”, “Sanitary landfill”, “Zero waste concept”). This contribution is conditional, as “the implementation of the envisaged undertakings communicated in Sudan’s INDCs is dependent on various conditions, including: The full implementation by developed countries of their commitments relating to finance, technology development and transfer and capacity-building pursuant to Article 4 of the Convention; Reaching the long-term temperature goal that is currently set at below 2degC and subject to be revised at COP 21; and Sudan’s access to adequate, predictable and sustainable financial resources, including technology transfer and capacity-building.” (NDC, p. 4).

The targeted sectors are stated to be “Energy (Electric power); Forestry sector; Waste sector” (NDC, p. 7). However, the geographic coverage for the waste sector includes only one state, different to the two other sectors for which “contributions [are] to be implemented in most of the (18) states of Sudan” (NDC, p. 7). The covered Kyoto GHGs are presented to be CO2, CH4, and N2O, why we assume the basket of F-gases (HFCs, PFCs, SF6, and NF3) not to be targeted (NDC, p. 7). In total, our assessment of covered sectors and gases results in an estimated 22.2% of 2017’ emissions being targeted by the NDC (based on PRIMAP-hist v2.1 HISTCR exclLU, in AR4). We only include the Energy and LULUCF sector to be covered (data exclude LULUCF, however), due to the low geographical coverage of the contributions in the Waste sector.

For forestry and land, the country mentions that “Sustainable land use management faces great challenges in Sudan mainly due to poor policy coordination across sectors (i.e., forestry, agriculture, range and protected lands). Additional factors include the absence of unified legislation, absence of high-resolution land use maps, inadequate consideration of the socio-economic factors, and weak implementation of the existing legislation and policies by the sectors. This land use context has led to serious environmental problems such as overgrazing, over cultivation and reduced land productivity which in turn have led to rural poverty, and rural-urban migration patterns that cannot be sustained in the long-term. In the absence of concerted efforts to address these issues, land degradation is expected to worsen over the next 30 years. Factors such as unsustainable wood fuel use, increasing demand for agriculture and grazing resources, and mismanaged of forests and land use has led to the current deforestation rate, which is estimated at 2.2 of the total land area.” (NDC, p. 8).

Regarding Article 6 of the PA (cooperation and markets), “Sudan does not exclude using market-based-mechanisms in implementing its contributions if access to market mechanism is granted.” (NDC, p. 8).

As we did not quantify mitigation contributions by Sudan, we assume the country’s emissions to follow projected baseline emissions. This is of special need when aggregating country-level data to regional or global values, to then, e.g., derive estimates of the end-of-century warming levels in line with mitigation pledges.

The NDC-assessment is based on Sudan’s NDC submitted to the UNFCCC in August 2017.

The Figure below provides additional information, regarding both the baseline emissions used in our assessment and the quantified mitigated pathways for Sudan.

Baseline emissions and mitigated emissions pathways based on the country’s Nationally Determined Contribution. In terms of national emissions, we look at the SSP2 baseline marker scenario, and the emissions of all IPCC sectors. Contributions from LULUCF are excluded (exclLU), and the emissions are based on GWPs from AR4. The left panel (a) shows the baseline emissions, indicating the contributions of the Kyoto Greenhouse Gases CO2, CH4, N2O, and the basket of F-gases to the national emissions. If we could extract baseline data exclLU from the NDC, you can see their values as black squares (converted from GWP SAR to AR4 if needed). In the right panel (b), the quantified mitigated emissions pathways are shown, based on information from the country’s NDC and also on non-NDC emissions baselines, per target conditionality and range (marked un-/conditional best/worst). Even though not all countries have targets with different conditionalities or ranges, we need assumptions for all four cases to build one global pathway per conditionality plus range combination and to derive corresponding temperature estimates. Therefore, we indicate these four pathways here. Per combination, we performed several quantifications with differing assumptions and show the median and the minimal and maximal pathways here. Additionally, if we could quantify the targets based on data extracted purely from the NDC - or if the targets were directly given in absolute emissions, these targets are shown as squares (in the GWP originally given in the NDC).


Data sources and further information

  • Historical emissions: PRIMAP-hist v2.1 (Guetschow et al., 2016, 2019).
  • Historical socio-economic data: PRIMAP-hist Socio-Eco v2.1 (Guetschow et al., 2019).
  • Projected emissions and socio-economic data: downscaled SSPs (Guetschow et al., 2020, 2020).
  • NDC quantifications: NDCmitiQ (Guenther et al., 2020, 2021).
  • GDP is given in purchasing power parity (PPP).
  • Main emissions sectors (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, IPCC): Energy, Industrial Processes and Product Use (IPPU), Agriculture and LULUCF (Land Use, Land-Use Change and Forestry), also named AFOLU (Agriculture, Forestry and Other Land Use), and Waste.
  • Kyoto GHG: basket of several GHGs, namely carbon dioxide (CO2), Methane (CH4), nitrous oxide (N2O), hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), perfluorocarbons (PFCs), sulphur hexafluoride (SF6), and since the second Kyoto Protocol period (2013-20) additionally nitrogen fluoride (NF3).
  • Global Warming Potentials (GWPs): GHGs have very different warming potentials. To make them comparable and for aggregation purposes, GWPs are used (how much energy will 1 ton of a certain gas absorb over a defined period of time, relative to the same mass of CO2?).


1 Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK), 14473 Potsdam, Germany