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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?

UK government to call for carbon emissions tax in event of no deal Brexit

30-07-2019
The UK Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) has released new guidance updating how the UK’s climate change regulations, emissions trading and energy labelling would be affected if the UK leaves the European Union (EU) with no deal – a scenario that Prime Minister Boris John...

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BHP to invest $400mn to address climate change

24-07-2019
BHP has announced a five-year, $400m Climate Investment Program to develop technologies to reduce emissions from its own operations as well as those generated from the use of its resources.Commenting on BHP’s move, Viktor Tanevski, Principal Analyst at Wood Mackenzie, says: ‘A key driver of its clim...

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EIA expects US energy-related CO2 emissions to fall in 2019

15-07-2019
After a 2.7% increase in US energy-related carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions in 2018, The US Energy Information Administration’s (EIA) July 2019 Short-Term Energy Outlook (STEO) forecasts a 2.2% decrease in CO2 emissions for 2019.Nearly all of the forecast decrease is due to fewer emissions from c...

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BHP to introduce low emissions LNG freight

15-07-2019
BHP has released what it claims is the world’s first bulk carrier tender for LNG-fuelled transport for up to 27mn tonnes of its iron ore. Introducing LNG-fuelled ships into BHP’s maritime supply chain will eliminate nitrogen oxide (NOx) and sulphur oxide (SOx) emissions and significantly reduce...

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UK credibility on climate change: ‘rests on government action’

15-07-2019
Targets are not results – while the UK government has legislated to deliver net zero emissions by 2050, it must now show it is serious about acting on its legal obligations to both tackle and prepare for a changing climate, says the Committee on Climate Change (CCC) in two new reports: Reducing UK e...

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Events and training

In conversation with Lord Browne FREng HonFEI

17-09-2019
Attend to discuss and purchase a signed copy of Lord Browne FREng HonFEI's new book - Make, Think, Imagine: Engineering the Future of Civilisation

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Energy Policy Debate: The Regulated Asset Base (RAB) Consultation

25-09-2019
Discuss your view on the Government’s RAB funding model.

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East Mediterranean: The New Natural Gas Frontier

7-10-2019
Learn more about the latest hotspot for hydrocarbon exploration & production activity. 

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Passivhaus – the technology to improve building energy efficiency

8-10-2019
Passivhaus is a well established concept that has been proven to reduce building energy usage significantly and needs to be employed more widely if we are to achieve Climate Change targets.

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Understanding your energy culture tool

18-10-2019
Free pilot workshop - limited places available. Please contact webtraining@energyinst.org to book. This workshop-based tool will help you to understand your company ‘energy culture’ – in short, this is ‘how we do things around here’.  It includes a s...

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Technical guidance publications

Model Code of Safe Practice Part 2: Guidance on the design, construction and operation of petroleum distribution installations

2019
EI Model Code of Safe Practice Part 2: Guidance on the design, construction and operation of petroleum distribution installations has been developed to provide guidance and good practice in the layout, design and construction of distribution installations and their equipment. It also provides certai...

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HM 60. Guidelines for the auditing of measurement systems for oil and gas streams

2019
This publication has been produced as a high level guideline on auditing for use by all of those involved in the measurement process in the upstream oil and gas industry.Measurement system auditing is a critical activity for all operators producing hydrocarbons to ensure financial interests are prot...

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Guidance on the development and decommissioning of new combined cycle gas turbine (CCGT) plant

2019
This publication provides good practice for the safe commissioning of 'new build' CCGT plant projects. New build is plant that is being planned or has recently been constructed and being made ready (during the commissioning phase) for operation to an agreed specification and contract. It is intended...

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Guidance for corrosion management in oil and gas production and processing

2019
*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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Guidance on managing process safety in decommissioning projects

2019
This publication is intended to provide guidance on managing process safety within decommissioning projects generally within the energy sector, with more specific guidance and information provided, where possible, in the following industry sectors:offshore oil and gas;onshore oil and gas and petroch...

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