5. Rethinking the carbon budget message
Two new analyses argue that a widely cited idea in climate policy and academic circles — to impose a carbon budget — has outlived its usefulness.
The argument: While the idea of a carbon budget has gotten a lot of traction in recent years, two pieces published Monday in Nature Geoscience say the specifics underpinning carbon budget studies have become so complicated and nuanced as to render the tool useless for actual policymaking.
Background: The concept of a “carbon budget” seems relatively simple. It’s the notion that one can only “spend,” or emit, a certain amount of greenhouse gases without exceeding global warming targets.
The details: The studies, one by Glen Peters of Norway’s Center for International Climate Research and the other by Oliver Geden of the Max Planck Institute for Meteorology in Germany, take different approaches but reach the same conclusion — ditch the carbon budget talk as it has been used to date.
Why it matters: Shifting estimates and assumptions behind these studies are confusing policymakers — and perhaps preventing them from taking the ambitious actions needed to limit global warming’s severity, both authors conclude.
Go deeper: Read the full story here.