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?

Reducing methane emissions from oil and gas

1-04-2020
Reducing carbon dioxide emissions is clearly the key to tackling climate change, but there should also be a focus on methane, a shorter-lived but more potent greenhouse gas. Catherine Cosgrove and Daniel de Wijze of the Energy Institute Knowledge Service report.

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Reducing methane emissions from oil and gas

1-04-2020
Reducing carbon dioxide emissions is clearly the key to tackling climate change, but there should also be a focus on methane, a shorter-lived but more potent greenhouse gas. Catherine Cosgrove and Daniel de Wijze of the Energy Institute Knowledge Service report.

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Silver anniversary for VOC emissions control

1-04-2020
The Energy Institute recently updated its guidance for the design and operation of petrol vapour emission controls at distribution terminals to service stations, coinciding with 25 years of volatile organic compound (VOC) emissions regulations covering this sector in the UK.

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Peak emissions are closer than you think

1-04-2020
Fossil fuel emissions will peak and then decline during the coming decade, according to Michael Liebreich, Chairman and CEO, Liebreich Associates. However, it will be a modest decline, perhaps 5% by 2030, not enough to meet the goals of the Paris Agreement. Despite this, he sees reason for optimism.

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UK consumption emissions drop - despite rise in footprint of imports

30-03-2020
The UK’s carbon footprint from consumption fell 21 per cent between 2007 and 2017, according to new government figures released on Thursday. The figures take into account the emissions from imported goods as well as aviation and shipping, unlike the more commonly used territorial emissions, whi...

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Events and training

Webinar - From Waste to Value: Opportunities in Energy Sector?

21-04-2020
Waste management has always been a universal challenge, due to the extensive growth in population and subsequent waste generation.

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Webcast: Energy investment and innovation - Strategic challenges for an industry in transition

2-06-2020
The outbreak of the coronavirus COVID-19 has quickly evolved into a global crisis, with tragic human loss and a profound impact on businesses around the world. The steep drop in energy demand and parallel oil price war have caused the oil price to sharply fall resulting in the energy industry announ...

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Powering Net Zero

8-10-2020
The Energy Institute is delighted to launch its new conference, Powering Net Zero, designed to discuss ways in which clean electricity and electrification can help reduce emissions globally to net-zero.

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Middle East HSE and Sustainability Week

7-12-2020
Abstract deadline: 10 May 2020 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 7-9 December 2020. In partnership with:

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Middle East Sustainability Forum

9-12-2020
This is part of Middle East HSE and Sustainability Week – for the HSE Forum please click here.

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Technical guidance publications

Battery storage guidance note 2: Battery energy storage system fire planning and response

2020
This publication is free to download. Please log in to see the download option.This publication provides guidance on how to respond to BESS fires. It represents the 'current state' of knowledge (in 2019), but also identifies gaps in knowledge. The guidance covers primarily non-domestic battery insta...

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Guidance on human factors safety critical task analysis

2020
This publication is free to download, please log in to see the download option.The first edition of Guidance on human factors safety critical task analysis filled a gap by enabling companies and human factors (HF) non-specialists to conduct quality HF analyses in a structured and consistent format. ...

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

2019
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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A model syllabus for the training of technicians involved in the examination, testing, maintenance and repair of petroleum road tankers

2019
The third edition of the syllabus is essential reading for all those involved in road tanker fleet operations, maintenance and repair workshops, and those with responsibility for the training of road tanker technicians.It has been developed to provide companies that undertake the maintenance of petr...

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HM 60. Guidelines for the auditing of measurement systems for oil and gas streams

2019
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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