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FEATURE: Modelling Mozambique’s low-emissions future

Almeida Sitoe, Sadie Cox and Tim Woods report on a major low-emissions project that is modelling future development pathways for Mozambique and providing scenarios for the next version of its NDC.

The need for low-emissions development
Mozambique is highly vulnerable to climate change, especially extreme weather events. More than 160,000 people were affected by floods in 2015, while Tropical Storm Dando caused major flooding and damage in 2012. Sea level rise also threatens people living along its coastline. Furthermore, many Mozambicans are heavily dependent on fishing and rain-fed farming, and extreme weather and declines in agricultural productivity threaten their health and economic stability.

In light of these concerns, Mozambique’s Intended Nationally Determined Contribution (INDC) focused largely on adaptation, specifically increasing the resilience of communities and the economy to climate change. However, it also notes the country’s plans for mitigation.

The overarching framework for realising these low-carbon ambitions is set out in the 2012 National Climate Change Adaptation and Mitigation Strategy (NCCAMS). This outlines potential activities in several sectors,[1] including improved access to renewable energy and developing sustainable, low-carbon agriculture. It summarises Mozambique’s overall climate ambition as promoting “low-carbon development and the green economy through the integration of adaptation and mitigation in sectorial and local planning”.

“With a combined effort we can, in 2025, have a greener and climate resilient Mozambique, with a vibrant green economy in all social and economic sectors.”– NCCAMS

How LEDS GP is supporting progress in Mozambique
Mozambique’s INDC notes that achieving these ambitions will require considerable financial and technological support, as well as strengthened institutional capacity. To this end, LEDS GP has been providing technical and capacity-building support.

LEDS GP’s work in Mozambique is run through the Africa LEDS project, which supports countries in implementing critical actions that maximise social, economic and climate impacts.[2] The activities in Mozambique fall under the project’s second component, ‘LEDS modelling support’. Through this, in-country teams adapt existing modelling tools to assess the socio-economic impacts and carbon emissions of different development trajectories. This helps policy-makers to identify the most appropriate pathways to be included in future Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs).

Modelling possible futures for Mozambique
A meeting of project stakeholders, held in March 2017 in Maputo, agreed that project activities in Mozambique should align with the country’s wider climate and socio-economic objectives, as stipulated in its INDC and National Development blueprints. Agriculture and energy were identified as priority sectors, and the stakeholders decided to focus on developing scenarios to mitigate emissions from these sectors.

Modelling support
LEDS GP provided technical support to use two models for scenario-planning in Mozambique:

  • The Long-range Energy Alternatives Planning System (LEAP) was used to test the effects of replacing fuel-powered irrigation systems with solar-powered systems (the mitigation solution). This found that, compared to average business-as-usual (i.e. fuel-powered) emissions of 14,735 tonnes of CO2 equivalent (tCO2-eq) up to 2030, a switch to solar-powered irrigation systems would reduce emissions to just 11,092 tCO2-eq. per year.[3]
  • The REDD Abacus model was used to test the impact of replacing traditional slash-and-burn agriculture for maize and cassava (business-as-usual scenario) with an agroforestry approach (mitigation scenario). The results showed that switching to the mitigation scenario would reduce emissions from 5.8 million tCO2-eq to 1.8 million tCO2-eq. per year.[4]

Part of this stage was to build Mozambique’s national capacity in modelling. For example, training in how to use the LEAP software helped in-country staff to understand the inputs and outputs of the LEAP system. It also explained the ‘soft-linking’ approach, which was used to connect and integrate the two models.

Connecting the two models
The second stage of the process was to link the models to identify the best overall strategies for low-emissions development, in terms of both climate and socio-economic impacts. This linking took many forms. For example, findings from LEAP were used as inputs to Abacus to generate a scenario of combined mitigation impacts for the energy and agriculture sectors.

The models also shared parts of their input databases (e.g. population and GDP projections), which helped to ensure consistency in datasets. This approach allowed the two models to communicate without the huge challenge (in time and cost) of having to merge them fully.

The combined analysis suggests that as well as reducing emissions in the agriculture and energy sectors – by 54% across both – combining these two mitigation scenarios could bring further benefits. For example, compared to all the possible scenarios tested, agroforestry generates higher profits for farmers and fewer emissions, and could also create jobs.[5]

Using the modelled scenarios
The in-country team and the LEDS GP international technical team met with policy-makers in 2018 to share findings from the modelling experience and outline its potential use in national policies. The integrated scenarios are now being used to inform Mozambique’s next NDC.

“The Mozambique NDC preparation team included members of the LEDS modelling team,” explains Almeida Sitoe, who was part of this modelling team. “The ideas and scenarios developed during the LEDS modelling were included in the NDC proposal and its action plan. This [the NDC] is now at an advanced stage, and is expected to be submitted to the Cabinet before the end of the year.”

Shared country learning
Another of the Africa LEDS project’s target outcomes is to establish sub-regional and global networks to engage in peer learning and knowledge sharing. Mozambique is a leader in the Agriculture, Forestry and Other Land Use (AFOLU) community of practice, which launched in 2018. This network seeks, among many objectives, to share lessons and create a knowledge base on low-emissions development to inform policies.

During one peer-learning session, the team from Mozambique presented their work on linking the energy and land-use sectors using the modelling approaches outlined above. They also ran a session on productive uses of energy for small-scale agriculture, during which they presented the work on solar-powered irrigation pumps.

In addition, the Mozambique team has been working directly with counterparts in Ghana, another Africa LEDS project partner. They shared the lessons from their linked modelling approach to assist the team in Ghana, who are using similar models.

Looking ahead: Mozambique’s ambitions for low-emissions development
The modelling process analysed possible mitigation pathways for Mozambique, but a low-emissions future will only be realised if the actions needed to achieve these are put into place. “The findings from this work outline the potential economic, social and environmental benefits of solar-powered irrigation and agroforestry – but these recommendations must be acted upon,” confirms Almeida Sitoe.

Another area for future work is to fill in the data gaps in Mozambique, notably on irrigation and agroforestry. “The data used to run the LEAP and Abacus simulations were limited,” Almeida states, “and consequently the results must be interpreted with caution. More comprehensive data will lead to more precise estimates, and modelled scenarios of even greater use in supporting Mozambique to achieve its ambition of a low-emissions future.”

[1] Energy; industrial processes; agriculture, forestry and other land uses; waste

[2] This project is sponsored by the European Commission and led by UN Environment, and implemented by Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology in Ghana and an international technical team led by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory in the USA. The Energy Research Centre of the Netherlands (ECN) is part of the international technical team.

[3] CEAGRE (unpublished). Low Emission Development from Energy Sector and Agriculture Sector in Mozambique: Report on Modelling and Capacity Building. Centro de Estudos de Agricultura e Gestão de Recursos Naturais, Maputo.

[4] Agroforestry does not actually reduce emissions, but is an important carbon sink, and therefore reduces net emissions from land-use change.

[5] CEAGRE. Op. cit.


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