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 struggling to keep pace with climate change impacts, says CCC

16-06-2021
Action to improve the nation’s resilience is failing to keep pace with the impacts of a warming planet and increasing climate risks facing the UK. That is the conclusion of a comprehensive independent assessment led by the Climate Change Committee (CCC), which considered a catalogue of ris...

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G7 leaders pledge $100bn/y to fight climate change

14-06-2021
G7 leaders in Cornwall, UK, have agreed to raise their contributions to meet an ‘overdue’ spending pledge of $100bn/y by rich countries to help poorer countries cut carbon emissions and cope with global warming. However, only two nations offered firm promises of more cash, according to a Reuters rep...

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Cheniere to collaborate on GHG emissions initiative

10-06-2021
Cheniere Energy, the largest LNG producer in the US, is to collaborate with five natural gas producers and several leading academic institutions to implement quantification, monitoring, reporting and verification (QMRV) of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions performance at natural gas production sites.It...

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Rising use of private jets sends CO2 emissions soaring

27-05-2021
Emissions of CO2 from private jets in Europe increased by nearly a third (31%) between 2005 and 2019, rising faster than commercial aviation emissions, according to a new report from Transport & Environment (T&E). The study also claims that private jets are 10 times more carbo...

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Shell must do more to cut carbon emissions, says Dutch court

26-05-2021
Shell has lost a landmark Dutch legal case brought by environmental campaigners, with the court ruling that the company must reduce its greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions more quickly than planned, with a 45% reduction in CO2 emissions by 2030 from 2019 levels.Responding to the ruling, Harry Brekelmans,...

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Events and training

EI LIVE free webinar | Why The Net Zero Carbon World Is Not Enough

29-06-2021
19.00-20.30 (Singapore Time) 12.00-13.30 (UK Time)

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EI LIVE free webinar | Why The Net Zero Carbon World Is Not Enough

29-06-2021
19.00-20.30 Singapore Time (12.00-13.30 UK Time)

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EI LIVE free webinar | Why The Net Zero Carbon World Is Not Enough

29-06-2021
19.00-20.30 Singapore Time(12.00-13.30 UK Time)

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Climate Innovation Forum 2021

29-06-2021
Climate Action is pleased to announce the Climate Innovation Forum 2021 returns for the third year, during and in collaboration with London Climate Action Week, to build critical momentum ahead of COP26.

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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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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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Managing the replant of a combined cycle gas turbine (CCGT) power plant

2021
This publication provides guidance on establishing good practice for the safe and structured approach to the management of a replant of a CCGT power plant, from conception, project development and execution, to handover back to the operation and maintenance (O&M)team.Its intended audience is the...

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Guidance on the identification and assessment of contaminants of emerging concern in soil and groundwater at industrial sites

2021
The aim of this guidance is to promote a risk-based and pragmatic approach to identification and management of CEC at industrial sites, which still complies with legal requirements dependent on the country or region where the site is located. The guidance provides advice tothe reader at all stages i...

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Guidance on petroleum hydrocarbon forensic chemistry for site investigation and remediation Volume 2

2021
This publication provides a practical introductory guide to petroleum hydrocarbon forensic chemistry, including a summary of changes in fuel specification and additives over time, the differences between petrogenic and non-petrogenic hydrocarbons, the effects of environmental processes such as weath...

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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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