Fossil fuels

DEFINITION: A natural fuel such as coal or gas that were formed from the remains of living organisms millions of years ago. Fossil fuels are non-renewable energy resources which are harmful for the environment because they release carbon dioxide when they burn.

See also: Greenhouse gas

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Readings from Hawaii observatory bring the threshold of 450ppm closer sooner than had been anticipated (stock photo)

Latest greenhouse gas emissions data shows steep rises in CO2 for seventh year

The concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere has increased by the second highest annual rise in the past six decades, according to new data.

The plaintiffs are composed of groups representing communities in virgin forest areas of the EU and the US

European lawsuit on biomass rules threatens Drax plant

A coalition of environmental campaigners has launched a court bid to stop the European Commission treating forest grown wood as a renewable source of energy.

The commitment was made later last week. Image: University of Liverpool

University of Liverpool to divest entirely from fossil fuels

The University of Liverpool has become the latest higher education facility in the UK to commit to removing fossil fuel investments from its portfolio, following pressure from students and staff.

As of 2018, more than 5,500 places of worship have switched to renewables

Catholic churches and schools sign major British Gas renewables deal

The Catholic Church has signed one of the UK's largest green energy contracts, which has seen more than 4,500 churches and schools switch to renewable gas and electricity supplied by British Gas.

The webinar is free-to-attend and will be available to watch on demand afterwards

Two weeks left to register: edie's Corporate Power Purchase Agreements masterclass webinar

With businesses having doubled the record for annual power purchase agreements (PPAs) in 2018, edie is hosting a 45-minute masterclass on Thursday 5 September at 11 am to explore how Corporate Power Purchase Agreements (CPPAs) can push businesses towards their clean energy goals.

UK Resources & Waste Strategy: A blueprint for business leadership

This edie insight guide provides sustainability and environmental professionals with a detailed breakdown of all of the key elements of the UK Government's Resources and Waste Strategy, and what they mean for business.

The report concludes that getting the same amount of mobility from gasoline as from new renewables in tandem with EVs over the next 25 years would cost 6.2 to seven times more

Report: Economics of petrol and diesel in 'irreversible decline'

Oil production costs must fall to $10-20 per barrel for petrol and diesel to compete effectively against renewable power in the transport sector, a new report has claimed.

edie's next masterclass: adopting Corporate Power Purchase Agreements

As Corporate Power Purchase Agreements (CPPAs) become a popular tool for businesses to meet their energy needs in a sustainable way, and with more companies moving away from fossil fuels, it is crucial to understand the process to adopt these Agreements.

The EU’s lending arm financed oil, gas and coal projects in 2018 with more than €2.4bn

EIB plans to cut all funding for fossil fuel projects by 2020

The European Investment Bank (EIB) has vowed to end its multibillion-euro financing for fossil fuel projects by the end of next year in order to align its strategy with climate targets.

One-third of the electricity produced in the UK in 2018 was renewable, new Government figures show

UK set to miss renewable energy target despite breaking records

Despite 2018 being another record year for renewable generation, official figures on energy consumption across the UK last year suggest that national 2020 renewable energy targets will be missed.

Coal-fired power plant in South Africa

UK's overseas energy aid spending on fossil fuels spirals to £4.6bn

Over the last seven years, the UK has spent 60% of its overseas support for energy investment in developing countries on fossil fuels, with more than £4.6bn spent on climate-wrecking projects.

These stories exemplify how businesses and governments across the world are ramping up efforts in all areas of sustainable development

Coors' plastic-free packaging and solar-powered trains: The sustainability success stories of the week

As part of our Mission Possible campaign, edie brings you this weekly round-up of five of the best sustainability success stories of the week from across the globe.

The RSA and RCEM hope their commitments will inspire broader action

Royal institutions divest from fossil fuels, encourage others to follow suit

To mark London Climate Action Week, the Royal College of Emergency Medicine (RCEM) and the Royal Society of Arts have sold all remaining shares in fossil fuel companies.

The Trust looks after 780 miles of coastline and 248,000 hectares of land, as well as its 500+ visitor sites. Pictured: Fountains Abbey, Yorkshire

The National Trust to divest entirely from fossil fuels

Europe's largest conservation charity has announced that it will divest from all fossil fuel companies within the next three years.

The goals were announced in April, but have since been approved by the SBTi

Co-op to halve emissions with 1.5C science-based target

The Co-op has joined a select group of business leaders committed to aligning emissions reduction strategies with the highest ambition of the Paris Agreement, after pledging to halve its greenhouse gas emissions by 2025.

The subsidies for coal mining halved, from $22bn to $10bn

G20 nations triple coal power subsidies despite climate crisis

G20 nations have almost tripled the subsidies they give to coal-fired power plants in recent years, despite the urgent need to cut the carbon emissions driving the climate crisis.

Both companies announced new climate goals next week

Puma sets science-based target while Nike envisions carbon neutrality

Sportswear giant Puma has set a new science-based target to reduce emissions by 35% by 2030, while fellow sports brand Nike has joined the Fashion Industry Charter for Climate Action to reach net-zero emissions by 2050.

One of Arriva's electric bus models 

Arriva inks telematics deal to slash bus emissions

European passenger transport company Arriva will install TomTom telematics systems in up to 15,000 buses, in a move that could reduce carbon emissions by 72,000 tonnes each year.

Former National Grid boss Steve Holliday: We can't isolate oil & gas majors on path to net-zero

Former National Grid boss Steve Holliday urged greater business and policy action to involve oil and gas firms in the power sector's low-carbon transition, arguing that such businesses must be "central" to transformation.

Two-thirds of the world’s energy demand increase was due to higher demand in China

Energy industry's carbon emissions rise at fastest rate in nearly a decade

Carbon emissions from the global energy industry rose at the fastest rate in almost a decade in 2018 after surprise swings in global temperatures stoked extra demand for fossil fuels.

The six-month inquiry began last December 

MPs call for halt on support for fossil fuels in developing nations

Of the £2.6bn which the UK's export credit agency spent supporting energy exports abroad between 2013 and 2018, 96% was funnelled into fossil fuel projects, mostly in developing nations.

The company has an approved science-based target to reduce Scope 1 and Scope 2 emissions by 100% by 2030, compared to 2015 levels

Unilever boss calls for business push on net-zero emissions

Unilever's new chief executive Alan Jope has written to trade associations and business groups that the consumer goods giant is a member of, asking for clarity on whether they believe a transition to net-zero emissions by 2050 is essential.

MPs have called on their own pension fund to divest its fossil fuel holdings

MPs apply pressure on pension funds over fossil fuel holdings

More than one third of MPs have called on pension fund trustees to halt investment in fossil fuels to support a move to a net-zero carbon economy.

ECC claims the target is "ambitious" and that it acknowledges the existence of a "Climate Emergency"

Edinburgh commits to become 'net-zero' carbon city by 2030

Edinburgh City Council (ECC) has pledged to ensure that the city operates on a "net-zero" carbon basis by 2030 - 15 years before Scotland's national net-zero target for 2045.

In action: Anesco's subsidy-free solar farm supported by a storage floor price

Renewable energy firm Anesco is working with EDF Energy and it’s tech partner, Upside Energy, to introduce an industry-first guaranteed floor price for revenue from the battery storage units operating at the first subsidy-free solar development in the UK.

Staff and students at Cambridge University have long been lobbying for its management to divest from companies in the fossil fuel industry

Cambridge University agrees to explore fossil fuel divestment plan

The former archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams has welcomed an "urgent change" by Cambridge University, after it agreed to provide fully costed plans setting out how it could divest multibillion-pound endowments from fossil fuel corporations.

Heavy industries like cement, steel and chemicals are heavy users of fossil fuels, accounting for about 14% of Europe’s greenhouse gas emissions

Zero-emission EU industry 'within reach' but costly, study finds

Bringing down emissions from heavy industry to net-zero by 2050 is possible but will require costly new production processes and a 25-60% increase in near-term capital investments to reach €40-50 billion per year, according to new research published on Thursday (25 April).

Tetra Pak utilises an array of onsite renewables solutions to lower carbon impacts

SDGs In Action: How Tetra Pak is achieving Goal 13 - Climate Action

Welcome back to edie's new editorial series which breaks down exactly how businesses are turning the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) into action. Up next: multinational food packaging firm Tetra Pak unveils how it is protecting futures by championing actions to mitigate climate change.

The World Bank has argued that the study “paints a distorted picture of [its] energy sector work”

The World Bank accused of dodging 'no-coal' pledge by funnelling billions of dollars into fossil fuels

A large-scale study on hundreds of active energy projects commissioned by The World Bank Group has concluded that the body is currently financing $21bn of fossil fuel projects, compared to $7bn in the renewables sector.

Shell commits $300m to conservation and carbon offset projects

Oil giant Shell has unveiled plans to invest $300m over the next three years on conservation and carbon offset projects in a bid to reduce its carbon footprint by up to 3%.

Participants of REBA account for 95% of all large-scale corporate renewable energy deals in the US to date

Corporate giants target 60GW of US renewable energy

Google, Facebook and Walmart are amongst the businesses to commit to bringing more than 60GW of renewable energy online in the US through the Renewable Energy Buyers Alliance (REBA).

Friends of the Earth says the figure of £44bn is

Report: UK oil and gas industry 'responsible for £44bn of damage each year'

The UK's oil and gas sector is causing £44bn worth of costs through environmental damage, negative social impacts and healthcare spending, a new Friends of the Earth (FotE) report has concluded.

The move builds on Bloomberg's service as the UN Special Envoy for Climate Action and the co-founder of the Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures (TCFD). Image Rubenstein Flickr

Michael Bloomberg to launch decarbonisation tracker for utility firms

Businessman and philanthropist Michael Bloomberg has unveiled fresh plans to utilise his firm Bloomberg LP and its charitable arm, Bloomberg Philanthropies, to help the utility sector to reduce its reliance on fossil fuels.

Eni is the latest oil major to outline a transition towards the low-carbon economy. Image: Eni, Flickr

Oil giant Eni targets net-zero carbon emissions by 2030

Italian oil and gas group Eni has pledged to reach net-zero carbon emissions for its operations by 2030, despite announcing plans to increase oil and gas production by 3.5% annually up to 2022.

First deep coal mine in 30 years given go-ahead in Cumbria

Cumbria County Council has granted planning approval for a new coal mine facility, Woodhouse Colliery in Whitehaven, the first of its kind in more than 30 years.

The UN has warned that arctic temperatures are likely to rise by 3-5C above pre-industrial levels, even if the Paris Agreement goals are met

Sharp rise in Arctic temperatures now inevitable, UN warns

Sharp and potentially devastating temperature rises of 3C to 5C in the Arctic are now inevitable even if the world succeeds in cutting greenhouse gas emissions in line with the Paris agreement, research has found.

Humanity is currently extracting natural resources three times more rapidly than in 1970, UN Environment has warned

Resource extraction responsible for half world's carbon emissions

Extraction industries are responsible for half of the world's carbon emissions and more than 80% of biodiversity loss, according to the most comprehensive environmental tally undertaken of mining and farming.

One-third of companies reported increased emissions

Majority of European firms have no CO2 reduction targets

Most European companies have no target for reducing their greenhouse gas emissions even though 80% see climate change as a business risk, a survey has found.

Levels of the climate-warming gas are set to rise by near-record amounts this year, the Met Office has warned

'Worrying' rise in global CO2 forecast for 2019

The level of climate-warming carbon dioxide (CO2) in the atmosphere is forecast to rise by a near-record amount in 2019, according to the Met Office.

The number of marketing emails being sent has decreased by 1.2 billion per day since the implementation of GDPR

How GDPR is curbing carbon emissions

Despite being the bane to many business professionals, new research suggests that the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) framework is assisting in the global fight to curb greenhouse gas emissions.

Fossil fuel output fell almost 7% to 131TWh

Renewables forecast to overtake fossil fuels in 2020

Renewables will overtake fossil fuels in 2020 to become the "dominant" source of power in Great Britain, EnAppsSys has predicted in a new report.

The EU spent €55bn on fossil fuel subsidies in 2016, with the UK contributing €12bn

UK revealed as EU champion of fossil fuel subsidies

The UK spends the most of any EU nation on subsidising fossil fuels, according to a new report by the European Commission, which also found that EU-wide payments have failed to decrease despite the bloc's commitment to the Paris Agreement on climate change.

Deep-sea mining also posed a new threat to the oceans, and should be closely regulated, the report suggested

'Stop treating seas as a sewer,' MPs urge in bid for protection treaty

A new global agreement to protect the seas should be a priority for the government to stop our seas becoming a "sewer", according to a cross-party group of MPs.

The Druridge Bay project makes a mockery of UK’s goal to phase out coal by 2025, say critics

Minister urged to drop new coal-mining plans in Northumberland

A wild stretch of Northumberland beach has become the ultimate testing ground of the Government's much-vaunted commitment to phase out coal by 2025, according to campaigners.

Rising sea level has been among the most dangerous long-term impacts of climate change

Global warming of oceans equivalent to an atomic bomb per second

Global warming has heated the oceans by the equivalent of one atomic bomb explosion per second for the past 150 years, according to analysis of new research.

Scotland is on course to meet its 2020 Climate Act target

Scottish industry's greenhouse gas emissions lowest since records began

Greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions produced by Scotland's industrial sector fell to an unprecedented low in 2017, the latest official figures have confirmed.

Shell is currently in the process of investing $1-2bn in green energy by 2020, but this figure could soon rise considerably

Shell set to double investment in green energy

Oil and gas giant Shell is exploring the feasibility of doubling its annual green energy investments to $4bn (£3.2bn), as it begins to transition away from fossil fuels and move into the low-carbon and renewables sectors.

Coal-fired power plant in Patnow, Konin, Poland

EU forges deal on coal phase-out, with special Polish clause

European Union legislators reached agreement in the early hours of Wednesday (19 December) over a proposed reform of electricity market rules that includes a 2025 cut-off date for coal subsidies, and a special clause for Poland.

During the industrial era, Wales was home to the three largest coal exporting ports in the world

Wales pledges to phase-out fossil fuels in favour of renewables

The Welsh Government has committed to phase out the continued extraction and use of fossil fuels, including those obtained by fracking, as it strives to reduce national carbon emissions by 80% by 2050, against a 2011 baseline.

The EAC claims that less than 1% of UKEF's energy financing was used for renewables in 2016

MPs to examine environmental impact of UK's export credit agency

The Environmental Audit Committee (EAC) has launched an inquiry into the sustainability efforts being made by UK Export Finance (UKEF), following claims that the body's financing of fossil fuels overseas is at odds with the aims set out in the UK's Clean Growth Strategy.

Developed nations are relying on gas and oil - rather than renewables - as the coal phase-out continues, the IEA has warned

IEA: Global carbon emissions set to rise in 2018, breaking five-year decline

The amount of carbon emitted by the world's most economically advanced nations is set to rise before the end of 2018, bucking a five-year decline in emissions, the International Energy Agency (IEA) has warned.

The UN report warns that there is still a

UN: World must triple efforts or face catastrophic climate change

Countries are failing to take the action needed to stave off the worst effects of climate change, a UN report has found, and the commitments made in the 2015 Paris agreement will not be met unless governments introduce additional measures as a matter of urgency.

The report's authors are calling for more to be done to implement smart grids and boost flexibility

Report: Renewables could meet half of UK's electricity demands by 2030, at price parity with fossil fuels

Wind and solar power - if distributed using smart, flexible power grids - could meet around 50% of the UK's electricity demands by 2030, at a price parity with coal, oil or gas generation.

Industrial coal-fired power plant at sunset near Gillette, Wyoming, US

Climate-heating greenhouse gases at record levels, says UN

The main greenhouse gas emissions driving climate change have all reached record levels, the UN's meteorology experts have reported.

The findings come ahead of the UN's COP24 conference, where delegates will develop a

Report: G20 nations off track to meet Paris Agreement goals, despite clean energy promises

Of the energy provided to G20 nations during the past 10 years, 82% was generated using coal, oil or gas - despite the bloc's promises to transition to clean power.

The IEA calculated that existing infrastructure would “lock in” 550 gigatonnes of carbon dioxide over the next 22 years

World has no capacity to absorb new fossil fuel plants, warns IEA

The world has so many existing fossil fuel projects that it cannot afford to build any more polluting infrastructure without busting international climate change goals, the global energy watchdog has warned.

Norwegian firm Equinor ranked first in the report, after pledging to invest 15% of its CAPEX into low-carbon energy by 2030

Report: Oil and gas industry failing to invest in low-carbon projects

Global oil and gas firms have collectively invested just 1.3% of their combined capital expenditure (CAPEX) into low-carbon technologies and projects since the start of 2018, new research from CDP has concluded.

The world has already warmed by around 1C over the past century

World 'nowhere near on track' to avoid warming beyond 1.5C target

The world's governments are "nowhere near on track" to meet their commitment to avoid global warming of more than 1.5C above the pre-industrial period, according to an author of a key UN report that will outline the dangers of breaching this limit.

In total, 57% of electricity generation was low carbon over the period, produced either by renewables or nuclear power stations

UK renewable energy capacity surpasses fossil fuels for first time

The capacity of renewable energy has overtaken that of fossil fuels in the UK for the first time, in a milestone that experts said would have been unthinkable a few years ago.

Global carbon emissions are expected to rise to a new record level in 2018

Global economic growth threatening climate change progress, report warns

The expansion in the global economy is undermining the world's efforts to achieve the objectives set out in the Paris Agreement, a new report from global consultancy Capgemini has warned.

Since 2015, Firmenich has recorded a 12% reduction in absolute emissions

Perfume giant Firmenich unveils approved science-based targets

Perfume company Firmenich has had a goal to reduce Scope 1 & 2 emissions by 39% approved by the Science Based Targets Initiative (SBTi).

Cement is one of the world's carbon-heavy industries, accounting for 6% of global CO2 emissions

World Cement Association aligns climate action strategy with 2C trajectory

Global non-profit World Cement Association (WCA) has released a climate action strategy targeting carbon emissions and waste management, in a drive to help the industry align with the Paris Agreement's goal of limiting the global temperature increase below 2C.

Green groups said the deal showed the government should back renewable energy firms rather than fossil fuel and nuclear companies

Scottish Power shifts to 100% wind generation after £700m Drax sale

Scottish Power has ditched fossil fuels for electricity generation and switched to 100% wind power, by selling off its last remaining gas power stations to Drax for more than £700m.

YouGov surveyed almost 850 professionals on a range of sustainability topics, from carbon emissions to energy efficiency

Almost two-thirds of UK businesses yet to set emissions targets, survey reveals

Almost two-thirds (61%) of companies in the UK's private sector have not yet set a specific, numerical target for reducing their emissions, a new survey from consultancy YouGov has revealed.

The new target will see Interface developing factories and products that sequester more carbon than they emit

Interface unveils goal of becoming carbon negative by 2040

Modular flooring firm Interface has set a new target of becoming carbon negative by 2040, building on a 2020 ambition of having “no negative environmental impact”.

The move from Shell comes after BP and ExxonMobil announced methane reduction aims earlier this year

Shell sets near-zero methane emissions target for 2025

Oil and gas giant Shell has made a new commitment to reduce the methane emissions intensity of its operations to below 0.2% by 2025.

Increasing the amount of forested land in the UK to 5% of land area could play a major role as trees act as a carbon sink

Urgent greenhouse gas removal plan could see UK hit 'net zero' target - report

Tree-planting, restoring wetlands and using chemicals to take carbon dioxide from the air will all be needed to reduce the UK's greenhouse gases in line with government plans, scientists have said.

The report predicts that global fossil fuel demand will enter an

Report: Fossil fuel demand to peak in the 2020s due to clean energy growth

The global transition to clean energy and low-carbon technologies is set to be much quicker than previously expected, with worldwide demand for fossil fuels set to peak in the 2020s.