Energy and the environment

There is a growing focus on the effects of energy production and use on the natural environment

In many countries, there have been major improvements in local air quality as regulations have been implemented governing fuel quality and emissions of pollutants such as sulphur dioxide and as the fuel mix has shifted towards cleaner burning fuels such as natural gas. In some emerging economies, pollution has become a growing problem as energy consumption has grown rapidly, albeit from a low base.

In recent years, the issue of global climate change has come to the fore as evidence has grown of rising atmospheric CO2 concentrations and the possible impact on global climate via the 'greenhouse effect'. The combustion of fossil fuels is one of the main contributors of man-made CO2 emissions.

We have produced a carbon dioxide emissions table, which is available in the Excel data workbook and as a PDF.

The methodology for estimating of CO2 emissions from energy use has been updated. We now use the Default CO2 Emission Factors for Combustion for each energy product type from the list of IPCC emission factors, and account for fossil fuel consumption for non-combustion purposes.

Links to energy and environment websites

The United Nations Environment Programme has an energy programme, which addresses the environmental consequences of energy production and use, such as global climate change and local air pollution.

The Inter-Governmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) launched the Fifth Assessment Report between September 2013 and November 2014. The Fifth Assessment Report tells policymakers what the scientific community knows about the scientific basis of climate change, its impacts and future risks, and options for adaption and mitigation. On 18 March 2015 the complete version of the Synthesis Report, the concluding instalment of the Fifth Assessment Report was published.

The US Environmental Protection Agency was created in 1970 to bring about a co-ordinated approach to environmental pollution in the US. The EPA co-ordinates research, education and assessment efforts and develops and enforces environmental regulations in the US.

The European Union has developed a comprehensive policy and legislative framework covering environmental issues.

Center for Climate and Energy Solutions sets out to educate the public and key policy makers on the causes and potential consequences of climate change.

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