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?

Biden’s $739bn climate deal set to deliver the biggest climate investment in US history

03/08/2022

Biden hailed the congressional deal as the biggest single climate investment in US history. The deal promises to raise taxes on high earners and corpo...

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Global nuclear generation rose 4% in 2021; UK closes Hinkley Point B

03/08/2022

Reactor performance is also reported to have improved, with the average capacity factor of the world’s operating nuclear reactors rising to 82.4%, up ...

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The sky isn’t the limit as the UK strives to reach net zero

27/07/2022

The new Jet Zero strategy commits UK domestic aviation to achieving net zero emissions by 2040 and for all airports in England to be zero emission by ...

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UK launches biggest electricity market reform in a generation

27/07/2022

In what could be the biggest electricity market shake up in decades, the Review of Electricity Market Arrangements (REMA) will seek views on a wide ra...

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Solid state batteries could further boost climate benefits of EVs

27/07/2022

Batteries are the fastest growing storage technology and will be crucial in helping the European Union (EU) meet its decarbonisation goals, especially...

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Events and training

Singapore International Chamber of Commerce Energy Transition Special Interest Group Launch

17/08/2022

In conjunction with the Singapore International Chamber of Commerce and the visit of Energy Institute President Ms. Juliet Davenport OBE Hon...

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Young and on Boards: How listening to future talent can be a short cut to business & climate success

19/09/2022

As part of Climate Week NYC, for the third year in a row, the EI’s Generation 2050 initiative will be holding an online roundtabl...

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Middle East HSE and Sustainability Week 2022

06/12/2022 - 08/12/2022

6 - 8 December 2022

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Technical guidance publications

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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EI Research report: Evolution of condition monitoring requirements for combined cycle gas turbine (CCGT) power plants

2021

Combined cycle has turbine (CCGT) power plants were originally designed for baseload operation however this has changed (particularly in the UK), e.g....

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Research report: Achieving greater resilience to major events – Organisational learning for safety risk management in complex environments

2021

This document is free to download for registered users.This report has been split into the following three sections:Part 1: Cultural precursors to maj...

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