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?

The future for emissions trading in the UK

1-04-2021
How will the UK Emissions Trading System – which came into being on 1 January – differ from the European version? Lawyers Gavin Watson and Henrietta Worthington have been looking at the official guidance.

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How to create green jobs and cut emissions from UK industry

26-03-2021
The government’s new Industrial Decarbonisation Strategy sets out its vision for building a greener future for the manufacturing and construction sector, with measures to create and support 80,000 UK jobs over the next 30 years while cutting emissions by two-thirds in just 15 years.The strategy will...

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Duva subsea tree installation project cuts time, costs and emissions

22-03-2021
Neptune Energy has completed the installation of four enhanced horizontal subsea tree systems (EHXTs) for the Duva development in the Norwegian sector of the North Sea. The installation was carried out by a vessel instead of a rig, reducing installation time, costs and operational emissions.  &...

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UK government launches £15mn competition to reduce aviation emissions

16-03-2021
Working towards net zero emission aviation, the UK government has launched a new competition to support the development of cutting-edge facilities capable of turning everyday waste into jet fuel.The ‘Green Fuel, Green Skies’ competition, which is part of Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s 10-p...

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Call for long-haul emissions to be covered by EU’s Sustainable Aviation Fuels mandate

11-03-2021
A coalition* of airlines, aviation sector companies and European NGOs have expressed their concern over policy proposals to limit the scope of the European Union’s ReFuel EU Aviation initiative to intra-EEA (European Economic Area) flights. The legislation, to be proposed by the European Commission ...

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Events and training

ESTA Energy Conference: ‘Green Recovery – Action NOW'

20-04-2021
The Energy Institute Yorkshire branch is pleased to be supporting ESTA's Energy Conference. For more details, and to book, please visit: https://estaenergy.org.uk/events/energy-conference 

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A Net Zero Showcase: Combating the climate crisis in the South West & South Wales region

17-08-2021
Join the South West and South Wales branch for their first net zero virtual conference.

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Middle East HSE and Sustainability Week

21-11-2021
21 - 23 November 2021, Virtual Conference 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 acros...

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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

2021
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

2021
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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Model Code of Safe Practice Part 9: Liquefied petroleum gas - large bulk storage

2021
This technical publication provides good practice guidance on the layout, design, operation and integrity management for bulk LPG storage installations storing volumes of LPG that are typically subject to Seveso III Directive, like those encountered at fixed installations atmanufacturing facilities ...

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

2020
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)

2020
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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