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?

IEA calls on companies, governments and regulators to take urgent action to cut methane emissions from oil and gas sector

Methane emissions from the global oil and gas industry fell by an estimated 10% in 2020 as producers slashed output in response to the COVID-19 crisis, according to the International Energy Agency (IEA), which also warns that these emissions could rebound strongly without greater action by companies...

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Leading the way on emissions-free buses

Denmark leads the way when it comes to putting zero emission urban buses on the streets in Europe, with 78% of new vehicles being electric, according to the latest data from green NGO Transport & Environment (T&E). In Luxembourg and the Netherlands, about two-thirds of new buses were zero em...

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IEA to produce world’s first comprehensive roadmap to net zero emissions by 2050

The International Energy Agency (IEA) is planning to produce what it claims will be the world’s first comprehensive roadmap for the energy sector to reach net zero emissions by 2050.The new special report, The World’s Roadmap to Net Zero by 2050, will set out in detail what is needed from ...

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Green boost to cut UK industry carbon emissions

Six projects across the UK are to receive a share of £8mn in government funding as part of a drive to create the world’s first net zero emissions industrial zone by 2040.Projects in the West Midlands, Tees Valley, North West, Humber, Scotland and South Wales will see local authorities working with i...

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Managing fleet energy costs while lowering carbon emissions

Changes are afoot in the world of road freight – and last-mile delivery vehicles are obvious targets for decarbonisation. Christopher Burghardt looks at how companies can make the most of the green transition.

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Events and training

EI LIVE free webinar | Is <2°C within reach? – a Generation 2050 round table at IP Week 2021

Join the first free-to-attend Generation 2050 round table session as part of IP Week 2021.

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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 This week will bring together two conferences, focusing on health, safety, environment (HSE) and sustainability, to deliver essential learning and sharing of international good practice to organisations across the energy industry.

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Middle East Sustainability Forum

Host Partner: The Sustainability Forum is endorsed by: 23 November 2021, Bahrain This is part of Middle East HSE and Sustainability Week - for the HSE Forum please click here. Sustainability: unmasking a new global landscape "Rather than compounding the [COVID-19] tragedy by allowin...

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Technical guidance publications

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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Guidance on power station closure, decommissioning and handover for demolition or sale

This publication provides guidance on a typical project process to safely and economically prepare a power station for decommissioning and for its handover in a safe state for demolition. The guidance has been developed based on the experience of operators and references other guidance where appropr...

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Code of safe practice for contractors and retailers managing contractors working on filling stations

This publication is intended for all contractors, subcontractors and self-employed persons who are required to carry out work on a filling station, and for retailers who are required to manage contractors whilst on their premises. It focuses on safety and good practice procedures whilst referencing ...

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