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Climate change and emissions

Global average temperature has risen by approximately 1°C since the late 19th century

Global weather patterns change over time, driven by natural and human factors. The long-term measurement of weather in a region is known as its climate. Changes to the climate are likely to result in disruptions to water resources, ecosystems and crop yields, as well as increased weather-related extremes, vulnerability of marginalised populations and sea level rise. Human activities including the use of fossil fuels for energy as well as agriculture, deforestation and other industries are releasing increased amounts of greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide and methane into the atmosphere. Elevated concentrations of these gases trap increased solar radiation in the atmosphere and are the primary cause of warming of the Earth, and particularly the oceans (IPCC).

Current scientific evidence suggests there is a higher risk of significant and possibly dangerous changes in the global environment if the global temperature rise passes a 2°C threshold compared to pre-industrial times. Significant efforts by the international community are underway to avoid the worst impacts of climate change; to achieve this, harnessing energy in ways that reduce emissions of greenhouse gases is crucial. Since 1992, most countries have been part of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, a treaty providing a framework for international cooperation for combating climate change. This was followed by the adoption of the Kyoto Protocol in 1997 which commits its developed country Parties to internationally binding emission reduction targets, and the Paris Agreement in 2015 which sets out an international action plan to limit global temperature rise to well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels. Reaching these targets would require emission patterns to change throughout the global economy. Key opportunities for the energy sector lie in demand side interventions such as energy efficiency and flexible systems, as well as renewable energy sources.

Learn more about climate change and emissions by exploring records published on our Energy Matrix.

For details on the progress in achieving the global and national climate change targets read the Energy World analyses.

Discover UK energy professionals' views of the best measures to reach emissions targets by reading our annual Energy Barometer.

What's new?

Economic stimulus in China drives second year of emissions growth

The country is facing a conundrum: whether to boost the slowing economy or reduce carbon emissions.China’s carbon dioxide emissions grew by roughly 3% last year, according to Greenpeace analysis of the country’s annual ‘statistical communique’. This marks the second year of emissions increases in Ch...

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BP and Environmental Defense Fund team up to reduce methane emissions

BP and the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) have announced a three-year strategic commitment to advance technologies and practices to reduce methane emissions from the global oil and gas supply chain.The agreement enables joint collaboration on projects that test technologies and emerging strategies...

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Why companies need science-based emissions targets

National governments have traditionally been the drivers behind carbon emissions reduction initiatives. But there is a growing opportunity for private sector organisations to show leadership of their own. Emma Watson explains why ambitious target setting is key.

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UK homes are ‘unfit for the challenges of climate change’

The UK’s legally-binding climate change targets will not be met without the near-complete elimination of greenhouse gas emissions from UK buildings, according to a new and hard hitting report: UK housing: Fit for the future? from the Committee on Climate Change (CCC). The report finds that emis...

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Road to net-zero emissions for heavy industries and transport

A new report called Mission possible by the Energy Transitions Commission aims to encourage accelerated change towards net-zero emissions by 2050 in harder-to-abate industry sectors, like cement, steel, chemicals and heavy-duty transport.

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Events and training

Meeting the UK’s long-term climate change targets – a review

Debate and discuss the outcomes of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) Special Report.

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Financing challenges for a transforming energy industry

Attend to discuss the latest challenges and financial solutions that will manage risks and facilitate the development of the future energy mix to meet consumers’ requirements.

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Technical guidance publications

Guidance for corrosion management in oil and gas production and processing

*This publication has a large file size, please allow extra time for the PDF to download*This second edition of the EI's Guidance on corrosion management in oil and gas production and processing provides general principles and essential engineering guidance and requirements for improving corrosion m...

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Design, construction, modification, maintenance and decommissioning of filling stations (known as the Blue Book)

The fourth edition of Design, construction, modification, maintenance and decommissioning of filling stations (also known as the Blue Book) is essential reading for all those involved in the design, construction, modification, maintenance and decommissioning of facilities for the storage and dispens...

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Guidance on conceptual design, selection and life cycle assurance of products intended to improve integrity of bases of above-ground storage tanks holding petroleum, petroleum products or other fuels

This publication is intended primarily for use by process safety specialists, designers, inspectors, regulators and operators and owners of facilities holding bulk stores of petroleum, petroleum products or other fuels in above-ground storage tanks (ASTs).The information provided in this public...

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Fuels for gas turbine engines

Published by Landfall Press; Author: Eric Goodger. Please note that an erratum was issued in December 2018 for this publication, it is available for download and present in the full PDF. This change has been incorporated into the full PDF.Since its emergence during WW2 as a viable alternative t...

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Guidelines for the uplift of petroleum, petroleum products and other fuels from retail filling stations and customers' tanks

These guidelines have been prepared on the basis that most product uplift operations are outsourced to specialist uplift contractors by clients who encounter them infrequently. For the former, they identify hazards and necessary control measures, including specifications for appropriate equipment, a...

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