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 our Energy Insights.

For details on the progress in achieving the global and national climate change targets read the New 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?

New UK oil and gas decommissioning cost efficiency target

30/11/2022
The North Sea industry has made great strides cutting the overall cost estimate for decommissioning by 25%, or £15bn, since the start of 2017, but it ...

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COP27 closed with ‘historic’ loss and damage deal, but critics say final agreement needed to go further

23/11/2022
The new loss and damage fund will be geared towards developing nations that are particularly ‘vulnerable’ to the adverse effects of climate change, wo...

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UN announces MARS mission – high-tech, satellite-based global methane detection system

23/11/2022
The Methane Alert and Response System (MARS) initiative aims to scale up global efforts to detect and act on major emissions sources in a transparent ...

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A swift reduction in global coal emissions is central to climate challenge

23/11/2022
The report shows that the overwhelming majority of current global coal consumption occurs in countries that have pledged to achieve net zero emissions...

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Floating wind will miss 2030 target

23/11/2022
The report from offshore wind analyst 4C Offshore notes that rather than being a supply issue, the lack of progress is often down to administrative de...

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Events and training

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Technical guidance publications

Research report: Application of life cycle assessment methodology to the understanding of the energy balance and efficiency of hydrogen value chain building blocks

2022
This document is free to download for registered users.This publication explores the efficiencies of the hydrogen energy system and quantifies the ene...

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Waste to products – Technology and economic assessment (phase 1)

2022
This document is free to download for registered users.The EMG and Soil Wastes and Groundwater group (SWG) of the EI and Concawe have commissioned E4t...

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High level framework for process safety management

2022
In 2010 the EI's Process Safety Committee identified a benefit in promoting a common high-level framework for PSM across the energy industry sectors. ...

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Model Code of Safe Practice Part 17: High pressure and high temperature (HPHT) well planning, control, completions and interventions

2022
This document is intended for guidance and contains recommendations for safe practices to be used as a model for development of policy in constructing...

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EI Research report: Evolution of condition monitoring requirements for combined cycle gas turbine (CCGT) power plants

2021
Combined cycle has turbine (CCGT) power plants were originally designed for baseload operation however this has changed (particularly in the UK), e.g....

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