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?

EC proposal to cut emissions by 55% by 2030

16-09-2020
At the heart of the European Green Deal, regarded as the blueprint for Europe’s energy transition, is the mission to become the first climate-neutral continent by 2050. However, when presenting her 2020 State of the Union address to the European Parliament Plenary on 15 September, European Commissio...

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PetroChina unveils ‘near zero’ emissions ambition

1-09-2020
PetroChina has become the first national oil company (NOC) in the world to announce plans to meet ‘near zero’ net emissions by 2050 and invest in geothermal, wind and solar power, as well as pilot hydrogen projects.Commenting on the news, Wood Mackenzie’s Principal Analyst Max Petrov says: ‘PetroChi...

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Transport emissions and R&D projects win UK government funding

25-08-2020
The government is to support a series of projects aimed at making progress towards a net zero future, including a highly ambitious initiative to develop zero emission air transport. First, Prime Minister Boris Johnson has announced that UK industry will receive around £350mn to cut down carbon emiss...

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UN: Climate-friendly cooling could cut years of CO2 emissions

24-08-2020
Coordinated international action on energy-efficient, climate-friendly cooling could avoid as much as 460bn tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions – roughly equal to eight years of global emissions at 2018 levels – over the next four decades, according to a new report from the United Nations Environment...

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UK Renewables march on as carbon emissions fall again

20-08-2020
A further rise in the proportion of electricity generated from renewables is again the main headline from the UK energy scene in 2019, as summarised in this year’s Digest of United Kingdom Energy Statistics 2020 published by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS). Electr...

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Events and training

EI LIVE free webinar | The new context for energy in Scotland

22-09-2020
A joint event run by Aberdeen, Highlands and Islands branch, Aberdeen YPN and the Southern Scotland branch.

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The Energy Transition – How Does the UK’s Oil & Gas Industry Achieve Net Zero Emissions by 2050

2-10-2020
The webinar is organised by the World Petroleum Council Young Professionals Network UK.

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EI LIVE Free Webinar | Powering Net Zero

8-10-2020
A free webinar, held ahead of the 2021 conference, to discuss the latest strategies needed to reach net zero.8 October 2020: 9:00 - 10:40 BSTEI Knowledge Partner:

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EI LIVE free webinar | Energy Policy Debate: UK Energy Policy Priorities for 2021

3-12-2020
This debate will be discussing the UK’s energy policy priorities for 2021 as we look forward to hosting COP26 that autumn.

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EI LIVE free webinar | COVID-19: What does this mean for the fight against the climate crisis?

9-12-2020
Free online launch event for the Middle East Sustainability Forum 2021 9 December 2020, 09:00 GMT |12:00 Bahrain, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia | 13:00 UAE and Oman Platform: Webex

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Technical guidance publications

Guidance on the correct and safe handling of NOx reduction agent (AUS 32/AdBlue)

2020
This publication is free to download for registered users.This publication focuses on the installation of tank, pipe and pumping systems for the storage and dispensing of urea solutions (NOx reduction agent (AUS 32/AdBlue)) used in the treatment of diesel exhaust on vehicles.This document addresses ...

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Guidance on fire, combustible gas and toxic gas detection system development

2020
The purpose of Guidance on fire, combustible gas and toxic gas detection system development is intended to provide guidance on the development and maintenance of an effective and fit-for-purpose fire and gas detection system. The guidance is aimed to provide a consistent approach, applicable for bot...

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Guidance on power station closure, decommissioning and handover for demolition or sale

2020
This publication provides guidance on a typical project process to safely and economically prepare a power station for decommissioning and for its handover in a safe state for demolition. The guidance has been developed based on the experience of operators and references other guidance where appropr...

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Code of safe practice for contractors and retailers managing contractors working on filling stations

2020
This publication is intended for all contractors, subcontractors and self-employed persons who are required to carry out work on a filling station, and for retailers who are required to manage contractors whilst on their premises. It focuses on safety and good practice procedures whilst referencing ...

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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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