While Rwanda is still classified as a sink – and not an emitter – country, a new report has named sectors that produce more emissions in the country, with agriculture topping the list at 70.42 per cent of the total emissions produced locally.
Launched this week, the third National Communication Report on Climate Change” analyses the period between 2006 and 2015, showing emissions trends and future scenarios, while it proposes ways of mitigating and adapting to climate change.
For a country to be categorised as carbon sink it means that while it produces emissions, it makes up for that by investing heavily in green initiatives such as forestry and agroforestry and develop enough to absorb the emitted carbons.
Greenhouse gases like water vapour, carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide and ozone play a critical role in shaping the global climate, but human activity has significantly modified the concentrations of these gases. The report was commissioned by the national environmental watchdog, the Rwanda Environment Management Authority (REMA).
The report, released Wednesday on the occasion of the World Environment Day in Kigali, also cited energy, showed that emissions from agriculture in the country are dominated by urea application and enteric fermentation.
The sector produces most emissions of greenhouse gases in Rwanda accounting for 70.4 per cent of the total national emissions.
In 2015, the emissions from urea application alone were almost double the total emissions from energy sector and these emissions have rapidly increased from 1,246,400 tons of carbon dioxide equivalent in 2006 to 2,559,000 in 2015.
The analysis shows that urea alone accounts for 32 per cent of chemical fertilisers applied in agriculture.
The emissions from enteric fermentation and ma¬nure management are linked to cattle, especially with the growing number of dairy cows thanks in large part to the country’s hugely successful Girinka scheme under which hundreds of thousands of poor households have received cows.
“The idea is to not tell the Government to stop the programme rather to continue promoting efforts aimed at mitigating global warming such as afforestation,” saisd Alphonse Mutabazi, the lead researcher.
The energy sector, which is comprised of electricity production, manufacturing industry and construction, transport, among others, accounts for 20.11 per cent of the total emissions produced in Rwanda.
Most emissions in the energy field come from other sectors (com¬mercial, institutional and domestic use of energy). The second highest emitting energy sub-sector is transport.
Although more contribution of emis¬sions in energy sector come from commercial, institutional and domes¬tic use of energy, their linked emissions have not increased significantly compared to transport.
In fact, in the last ten years, the emissions from commercial, intuitional and domestic use of energy have increased from 626,800 tons of carbon dioxide equivalent to 741,400 tons (18 per cent), while in the same period, the emissions from transport increased from 301,900 tons of carbon dioxide to 547,400 tons of (81 per cent).
The emissions from energy industry (electricity generation) and man¬ufacturing industry/construction are still low representing 15 per cent of total energy emis-sions).
Rwanda needs much more to develop this sector, the report recommends. This is because the country does not have mega industries that use a lot of energy compared to countries like US or China and other leading global emitters.
Emissions from waste sector represent 8.40 per cent of national emissions. Although these emissions are not significant at the national level, Rwanda needs appropriate management of both solid and liquid waste to reduce emissions in this sector, the report says.
Waste includes solid waste disposal, biological treatment of solid waste, incineration and open burning of waste, as well as wastewater treatment and discharge.
The emissions from industrial process and product use are considerations low (1.08 per cent in 2015).
Industrial process and product use include mineral industry like cement production, lime production and metal industry, as well as non-energy products from fuels, lubricant use and paraffin wax use).
The reduction of emissions in this sector should concern only gases which classified as pollutant rather than greenhouse gases emissions, the report says.
From 2006 to 2015, the emissions only (without what was absorbed) rose from 4,795,500 tons of carbon dioxide equivalent to 6,440,900 tons. The average of annual change was 4.9 per cent.
Meanwhile, it was observed that Rwanda will continue to be a sink up to at least 2050 if it continues to implement mitigation measures, thus further reducing on greenhouse gas emissions.
Some of these measures include appropriate management of existing forestry and agroforestry areas. Currently, forests cover 29.6 per cent of the country’s surface area.