Climate change and emissions

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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 our Energy Insights.

For details on the progress in achieving the global and national climate change targets read the New 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 offers more oil and gas exploration licences amidst call for government to prioritise renewables

15/05/2024

The NSTA confirmed 31 licence offers in the latest phase of the UK’s 33rd oil and gas licensing round, which aims to add an estimated 545mn boe by 205...

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NGO report calls for fossil fuel tax to help poor countries recover from climate change damage

08/05/2024

The Climate Damages Tax report proposes that OECD countries, in particular members of the G7 (Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the UK and US), i...

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Call for action to safeguard critical minerals needed for net zero and to protect essential food crops

08/05/2024

Copper, cobalt and lithium have a key role to play in the clean energy transition, integral to electronics and used in batteries for electric vehicles...

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G7 nations agree to phase out coal by 2035… but with caveats

08/05/2024

The latest meeting of ministers from the G7 nations Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the UK and US, which account for 30% of global GDP and 21% ...

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Green light for Europe’s first commercial-scale floating offshore wind farm

01/05/2024

Comprising up to 35 floating wind turbines, Green Volt will deliver renewable electricity to oil and gas platforms, replacing existing natural gas and...

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Events and training

Climate Change Adaptation Workshop: managing water stress for the energy industry in the transition

04/07/2024

Climate Change Adaptation Workshop: managing water stress - quantity, quality, infrastructure - for the energy industry in the energy transitionI...

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Technical guidance publications

Energy retail station sites green guide: opportunities to contribute to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals

2023

The energy and fuel retail sector is one of many industries expected to undergo considerable disruption in the next decade to meet the emerging challe...

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Tripod lite: A ‘lite’ tool for investigating simple incidents, events and near misses

2023

This publication is free to download.  Register or log in, then click 'download'.Note: this will download a document 'landing page' that inc...

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Research report: Application of life cycle assessment methodology to the understanding of the energy balance and efficiency of hydrogen value chain building blocks

2022

This document is free to download for registered users.This publication explores the efficiencies of the hydrogen energy system and quantifies the ene...

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Waste to products – Technology and economic assessment (phase 1)

2022

This document is free to download for registered users.The EMG and Soil Wastes and Groundwater group (SWG) of the EI and Concawe have commissioned E4t...

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High level framework for process safety management

2022

In 2010 the EI's Process Safety Committee identified a benefit in promoting a common high-level framework for PSM across the energy industry sectors. ...

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