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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?

Utility regulators ‘need new powers if UK is to tackle climate change’

17-10-2019
The UK will fail to reach net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 if its regulators – including energy regulator Ofgem – are not given new powers to ensure utility companies invest in sustainable infrastructure. So says a new report: Strategic investment and public confidence published by the...

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Volvo Cars to radically reduce carbon emissions

16-10-2019
Volvo Cars is targeting a 40% reduction in the lifecycle carbon footprint of each car it makes by 2025, in a bid to become a climate neutral company by 2040.A string of measures will be used to reach its 2025 target, including generating 50% of global sales from fully electric cars, which would resu...

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Atmospheric pressure controls greenhouse gas emissions from leaking oil and gas wells

16-10-2019
Decreases in atmospheric pressure can lead to a 20-fold increase in fugitive greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) associated with leaking onshore hydrocarbon wells, a new study in Nature has shown.A 30-day study led by Scottish and Canadian scientists showed that atmospheric pressure controls the timing a...

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ExxonMobil expands low emissions technology research

14-10-2019
ExxonMobil has signed agreements with the Indian Institute of Technology in Madras and Bombay, further expanding its extensive portfolio of research collaboration with India’s universities.The five-year agreements focus on progressing research in biofuels and bio-products, gas transport and conversi...

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Bridging the gap to zero emissions HGVs, Petroleum Review, October 2019, p 5

1-10-2019
In UK, the Energy Technologies Institute reports that HGVs account for about 4% of total carbon emissions, and that this could be reduced towards zero by the adoption of plug-in hybrid vehicles using gaseous hydrogen. 

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Events and training

CPDC Attwood Shield Lecture; "Climate change - is it too late to stop Armageddon?"

5-11-2019
The Annual ‘Professor James Attwood Memorial Lecture’ will be given this year by Ms Joan MacNaughton, Chair of The Climate Group and of the Advisory Board of the New Energy Coalition of Europe.

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Net-Zero: what are the solutions?

21-11-2019
This panel debate will ask some of the key leaders in UK energy what the solutions are for a net-zero economy and how we can get there.

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Middle East HSE Forum

8-12-2019
This is part of Middle East HSE and Sustainability Week – for the Sustainability Forum please click here.

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Middle East Sustainability Forum

10-12-2019
This is part of Middle East HSE and Sustainability Week – for the HSE Forum please click here.

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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

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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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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Battery storage guidance note 1: Battery storage planning

2019
This publication is free to download. Please log in to see the download option.Battery storage is expected to play an important role in the energy transition, allowing the storage of electrical energy from renewables for later use, and helping to balance grid load. This publication provides guidance...

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Guidance on the development and commissioning of new combined cycle gas turbine (CCGT) plant

2019
This publication provides good practice for the safe commissioning of 'new build' CCGT plant projects. New build is plant that is being planned or has recently been constructed and being made ready (during the commissioning phase) for operation to an agreed specification and contract. It is intended...

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HM 96. Guidelines for the allocation of fluid streams in oil and gas production

2019
Allocation is a term used to describe the system by which ownership of oil, gas, gas liquids and produced water is determined and tracked from the point of production to a point of sale or discharge. Allocation systems therefore have a direct impact on revenue and often involve several business area...

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