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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?

European airline emissions continue to grow

15-05-2019
Eight airlines grew their carbon emissions at a faster rate than Ryanair on flights within Europe last year, according to the European Federation for Transport and Environment (T&E). Low-cost airlines Jet2, Wizz Air, EasyJet, Vueling and Norwegian and national carriers TAP, Finnair and Luft...

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UK government awards £25mn to fund zero emission transport innovations

15-05-2019
Projects across the UK are set to benefit from £25mn investment to develop ground-breaking zero emission technologies for new vehicles. A boost for green transport, the investment is a key part of the government’s Industrial Strategy, and part of wider efforts towards developing a net zero carbon ec...

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Is the EU emissions trading system failing?

9-05-2019
The price of European Emissions Allowances (EUAs), the tradeable unit under the European Union (EU) Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS), jumped from €7/tCO2e in 2018 to an 11-year high of €27.46/tCO2e at the beginning of April this year, reports market analyst ICIS. During the last year, emissions under ...

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UK could become the first major economy to stop contributing to climate change

9-05-2019
The government is not ‘immediately accepting’ the recommendations set out in the new and radical ‘Net Zero’ report from the Committee on Climate Change (CCC) – so said a statement from the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS). But Energy Secretary Greg Clark was nevertheles...

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Research collaboration to bring lower-emissions tech to commercial scale

8-05-2019
ExxonMobil has unveiled plans to invest up to $100mn over 10 years to research and develop advanced lower-emissions technologies with the US Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory and National Energy Technology Laboratory. The agreement – among the largest between the department...

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Events and training

Financing challenges for a transforming energy industry

5-06-2019
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 Seminar on Hydrogen Economy in Hong Kong

15-06-2019
The Energy Institute Hong Kong and the Ability R&D Energy Research Centre of City University of Hong Kong jointly organize a half-day Technical Seminar on Hydrogen Economy in Hong Kong with support from the Power Assets Holdings Ltd and Northern Gas Networks.

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Middle East HSE and Sustainability Week

8-12-2019
This week will bring together two conferences, focusing on HSE and sustainability, to deliver essential learning and sharing of international good practice to organisations across the energy industry from 8-10 December 2019.

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Technical guidance publications

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

2018
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

2018
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

2018
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

2018
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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