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?

One weapon in the fight against carbon emissions

Taking steps to address the energy efficiency of buildings is a practical way to cut carbon emissions. Mitchell Rosenberg of DNV GL suggests strategies for improvement.

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Eni targets zero emissions by 2050

Unveiling Eni’s strategic plan for 2021–2024, Claudio Descalzi, CEO, committed to the full decarbonisation of all the Italian company’s products and processes by 2050. He also announced the merger of Eni’s renewable and retail businesses.The strategy’s goal is to achieve net zero emissions by 2050, ...

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CCS could tap 62% of world’s CO2 emissions

According to the latest Energy Transition Report from Rystad Energy, carbon capture and storage (CCS) could address 62% (or 25 Gt, gigatonnes) of global CO2 emissions, although net-negative technologies such as direct air capture (DAC) and bio-energy CCS (BECCS) will be needed given that traditional...

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ExxonMobil creates new business to commercialise emissions reduction technology

ExxonMobil has created a new business to commercialise its low carbon technology portfolio. The new business, ExxonMobil Low Carbon Solutions, will initially focus on carbon capture and storage (CCS), one of the critical technologies required to achieve net zero emissions and the climate goals outli...

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South Korea’s first domestic zero emissions ferry

South Korea is planning to replace 140 state-owned conventionally powered marine vessels with ones operating on cleaner alternatives by 2030. The plans are in line with the government’s target of achieving net zero emissions by 2050, set out in its Green New Deal that was announced in 2020.As part o...

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Events and training

EI Live free webinar | Fostering a sustainable energy future post COVID-19

Please note that registration closes at 17:00 GMT on 16 March 2021.In conversation with H.E. Dr. Abdul Hussain Bin Ali Mirza, President of the Sustainable Energy Authority, Bahrain.In 2021 governments will meet for COP26 in the backdrop of a world profoundly changed by the impact of COVID-19.How can...

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EI LIVE webinar | Greening of the Gas Network

Energy Institute Northern Ireland Branch, is hosting a webinar bringing together key stakeholders in the gas industry to discuss how to green the gas network.

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Powering Net Zero

The Energy Institute’s new conference, Powering Net Zero, is designed to discuss ways in which clean electricity and electrification will be essential in reducing emissions globally to net zero.Registration closes at 17:00 BST on 5 October 2021.

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Renewables: Health, Safety and Sustainability

Early-bird rate until 1 April 2021 - book before then to save up to £50Build renewables in a safe and sustainable way - ensure that your organisation has the necessary health, safety and sustainability practices in place.Registration closes at 17:00 GMT on 16 November 2021

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Middle East HSE and Sustainability Week

21 - 23 November 2021, Bahrain Resilience: Responding | Rebuilding | Reimagining Middle East HSE and Sustainability Week brings together two conferences focusing on HSE and sustainability, to deliver essential learning and sharing of international good practice to organisations across the energ...

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Technical guidance publications

HM 79. Shore tank handbook. Tank design and ancilliary equipment relating to measurement and sampling of hydrocarbon liquids in shore tanks

This document identifies the standards and considers alternative designs and equipment used in onshore storage tanks for petroleum liquids, specifically concerning satisfying measurement and sampling requirements. Other issues such as foundation stability, mechanical design, coating and corrosion pr...

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EI 1545 Recommended practice for the defuelling of aircraft

EI 1545 provides guidance on the requirements, risks and precautions necessary to conduct the defuelling of an aircraft into a vehicle tank (with a focus on the use of either a refuelling vehicle with the necessary equipment controls or a purpose-built vehicle for defuelling) or, in certain cases, a...

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Guidelines for the design and operation of petrol vapour emission controls at distribution terminals

This publication supersedes the Guidelines for the design, installation and operation of petrol vapour emission controls at distribution terminals (4th edition), published October 2014.This publication has been prepared by the Vapour Recovery Working Group of the EI’s Distribution and Marketin...

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Guidance on the correct and safe handling of NOx reduction agent (AUS 32/AdBlue)

This publication is free to download for registered users.This publication focuses on the installation of tank, pipe and pumping systems for the storage and dispensing of urea solutions (NOx reduction agent (AUS 32/AdBlue)) used in the treatment of diesel exhaust on vehicles.This document addresses ...

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Guidance on fire, combustible gas and toxic gas detection system development

The purpose of Guidance on fire, combustible gas and toxic gas detection system development is intended to provide guidance on the development and maintenance of an effective and fit-for-purpose fire and gas detection system. The guidance is aimed to provide a consistent approach, applicable for bot...

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