Aether support to Belize Low Emissions Development Strategy and Action Plan

01 February 2022

Global climate change is one of the most serious threats to sustainable development in Belize, Central America. Impacts experienced in the country to date include sustained droughts, floods, increased coastal erosion and changing precipitation patterns. Combined, these climate changes and related phenomena are having significant impacts on many environmental, physical, social and economic systems within the country.

Belize, as a small country with relatively minor contributions to global greenhouse gas emissions, has limited capacity to contribute to worldwide mitigation. However, Belize became a signatory to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in 1992 and they submitted an updated Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) in September 2021. In this document they have committed to increasing emission reduction ambitions and to develop a long term strategy aligned with achieving net zero global emissions by 2050.

In 2020 and 2021, Aether worked with Vivid Economics and a local consultant to develop a low emission development strategy and action plan for Belize. This complements the recent NDC work and provided pathways to achieve low emission development in Belize until 2050 under ‘High Ambition’ (HA) and ‘Very High Ambition’ (VHA) scenarios. In consultation with stakeholders, Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emission projection scenarios were developed for the stationary energy, mobile energy, agriculture, waste and land use change sectors. In Belize, GHG emissions are dominated by those from the forestry and other land use sector (i.e. deforestation), and this sector was estimated to contribute more than 70% of the country’s annual emissions in 2020. However, overall Belize is estimated to be a net sink of GHG emissions primarily due to tree cover. In contrast to standard practice, the emissions arising from imported electricity from Mexico were included in the emission scenarios that were developed in order to ensure a holistic approach. Electricity generation in Belize is mostly from renewable sources (hydro and biomass), with smaller amounts being generated from fossil fuels (diesel, heavy fuel oil, natural gas and oil) to meet peak demand. The country however currently imports a significant share of its needs (approximately 40% in 2017) from Mexico, which is heavily dependent on fossil fuels for its electricity generation.  For the development of the Business As Usual scenario (BAU), it was agreed with stakeholders that in-country electricity generation would remain static going forward and that any increasing demand would be met by increasing the amounts of electricity imported from Mexico.

Overall it was estimated that Belize’s gross emissions would grow more than 40% between 2020 and 2050 under the BAU scenario and that this would be reduced by 45% under the HA scenario and to almost 90% under the VHA scenario.

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