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?

World will miss climate targets without introduction of large-scale negative emissions solutions by 2025

30-06-2021
Global action to deliver negative emissions technologies is falling far short of what is required to address the climate crisis, warns a study by the newly formed Coalition for Negative Emissions.The research states that to limit global warming to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels, as agreed in Pari...

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Offshore floating wind scheme aims to cut UKCS CO2 emissions by half from 2025

30-06-2021
Cerulean Winds has named NOV as the first of its delivery partners for the fabrication of its proposed integrated 200-turbine floating wind and hydrogen development off the coast of Scotland. The arrangement would establish NOV as the exclusive provider of floating and mooring systems in suppor...

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Car CO2 emissions fall sharply in response to EU targets

29-06-2021
Official new data from the EU’s environmental watchdog (EEA) shows that the CO2 emissions of new cars decreased by 12% in 2020 to 107.8 gCO2/km, suggesting that ambitious EU car CO2 targets have spurred vehicle manufacturers to reduce their climate impact. However, environmental group Transport &...

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Drax and Mitsubishi sign negative emissions deal

25-06-2021
Drax Group and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI) have agreed a long-term contract for Drax to use MHI’s carbon capture technology, the ‘Advanced KM CDR process’, in what would be the largest deployment of negative emissions in power generation anywhere in the world.The contract will see Drax license...

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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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Events and training

EI LIVE free webinar | Reversal Of Fortune: Oil and Gas Prices in a 2°C World

3-08-2021
7:00-8:30 pm Singapore Time (12:00-1:30 pm UK Time)Following on from our hugely successful James Bond 007 themed event “Why The Net Zero Carbon World Is Not Enough”, Energy Institute APAC is pleased to invite you to our next pre-COP26 thriller event.

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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 Western and South Wales branch for their first net zero virtual conference.

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EI LIVE | Energy Efficiency

22-09-2021
Discover the latest approaches and strategies in energy efficiency that can help the UK reach net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.Registration closes at 17:00 BST on 21 September 2021

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Middle East HSE and Sustainability Week

22-11-2021
22 - 24 November 2021, virtual conference Resilience: Responding | Rebuilding | Reimagining Middle East HSE and Sustainability Week brings together two conferences focusing on HSE and sustainability, to deliver essential learning and sharing of international good practice to organisations ...

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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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