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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 Prime Minister backs zero emissions bill

UK Prime Minister Theresa May, following her announcement that she is stepping down as leader of the ruling Conservative Party, said that the UK will eradicate its net contribution to climate change by 2050. The statutory instrument to implement this was laid in Parliament on 12 June 2019, amending ...

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Zero emission urban transport workhorses on the way

Fuel cell electric buses have been operating in day-to-day service in numerous European cities for many years and offer much promise as a mainstream zero emission public transport option. Michael Dolman summarises the status of this innovative technology and considers the outlook for the coming year...

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Shipping industry begins shift to lower-emissions fuels

If the shipping industry were a country, it would be the sixth-largest greenhouse gas emitter. Can new pollution regulations finally impose order on the high seas? Jennifer Johnson reports.

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EVs to dominate car sales by 2040 – but more vehicles means emissions still rising

Electric vehicles (EVs) are likely to make up the majority of global sales of passenger cars and buses by 2040, according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF)’s Electric Vehicle Outlook 2019.Based on analysis of the evolving economics in different vehicle segments and geographical markets, the rep...

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European airline emissions continue to grow

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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Events and training

Energy Barometer 2019 – Views from UK energy professionals

What keeps UK energy professionals awake at night? How likely is the UK to meet it climate targets? How will the consumer fare as the energy transition and data revolution progress? Join us for this free evening lecture which will present the findings from the 2019 Energy Barometer. Now in its 5th y...

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EI South Western and South Wales Branch AGM and evening talk

The EI South Western & South Wales branch committee is delighted to invite you to the most important event in our calendar: the Annual General Meeting followed by a talk and networking. 

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East Mediterranean: The New Natural Gas Frontier

Learn more about the latest hotspot for hydrocarbon exploration & production activity. 

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Passivhaus – the technology to improve building energy efficiency

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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Middle East HSE and Sustainability Week

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

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

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

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 for corrosion management in oil and gas production and processing

*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)

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

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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