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Rethinking the carbon budget message

Smoke billows from a large steel plant in Inner Mongolia, China. Photo: Kevin Frayer/Getty Images

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.