New study seeks global carbon budget to meet 2°C limit, may also find unicorns along the way

From the INTERNATIONAL INSTITUTE FOR APPLIED SYSTEMS ANALYSIS and the department of “burning budgets”, comes this glassy eyed missive that has about as much chance of being applied globally as we do finding unicorns. Meanwhile, China and the rest of the world isn’t blinking:

A lower limit for future climate emissions

In a comprehensive new study published in the journal Nature Climate Change, researchers propose a limit to future greenhouse gas emissions–or carbon budget–of 590-1240 billion tons of carbon dioxide from 2015 onwards, as the most appropriate estimate for keeping warming to below 2°C, a temperature target which aims to avoid the most dangerous impacts of climate change.

The study finds that the available budget is on the low end of the spectrum compared to previous estimates–which ranged from 590 to 2390 billion tons of carbon dioxide for the same time period–lending further urgency to the need to address climate change.

“In order to have a reasonable chance of keeping global warming below 2°C, we can only emit a certain amount of carbon dioxide, ever. That’s our carbon budget,” says IIASA researcher Joeri Rogelj, who led the study. “This has been known for about a decade and the physics behind this concept are well-understood, but many different factors can lead to carbon budgets that are either slightly smaller or slightly larger. We wanted to understand these differences, and provide clarity on the issue for policymakers and the public.”

“This study shows that in some cases we have been overestimating the available budget by 50 to more than 200%. At the high end, this is a difference of more than 1000 billion tons of carbon dioxide,” says Rogelj.

Estimates for a carbon budget consistent with the 2°C target have varied widely. The new study provides a comprehensive analysis of these differences. The researchers identified that the variation in carbon budgets stemmed from differences in scenarios and methods, and the inclusion of other human activities that can affect the climate, for example the release of other greenhouse gases like methane. Previous research suggested that the varying contribution of other human activities would be the main reason for carbon budget variations, but surprisingly, the study now finds that methodological differences contribute at least as much.

The proposed budget accounts for warming of all human activities and greenhouse gases and is based on detailed scenarios that simulate low-carbon futures.

Rogelj says,

“We now better understand the carbon budget for keeping global warming below 2 degrees. This carbon budget is very important to know because it defines how much carbon dioxide we are allowed to release into the atmosphere, ever. We have figured out that this budget is at the low end of what studies indicated before, and if we don’t start reducing our emissions immediately, we will blow it in a few decades.”


76 thoughts on “New study seeks global carbon budget to meet 2°C limit, may also find unicorns along the way

    • Actually, the Chinese promised only to keep on doing what they already planned to do. … Unless they changed their mind and decided to do something different.

      • Looks to me like the projected carbon emitted by 2030 is only about 30bn tonnes. If so, and we reach peak carbon at 2030 we would still have 15 years or so at that level until we reached the lower limit and almost 50 years till we reach the upper limit. If Peak Carbon was truly peak, then emissions would naturally decrease after that point and we would likely never reach the maximum.

      • My take on it is that Obama does not care one whit what China does. The agreement, which is useless on the China side, was just another deception to the US public to make the believe that He has reached a groundbreaking agreement and the “people” should go along with his scheme since China is taking action. He has touted the agreement along with the media while failing to give the specifics that China has done nothing and will likely never do anything to restirct CO 2 emissions. The whole thing is a deception. Have you seen any facts in the MSM that acknowledge that China has agreed to nothing? The same story with the wonderful agreement with Iran, Russia, etc. There is nothing there!! Smoke and mirrors!

    • Obama has become the least reliable president in history–as someone who deals in nothing but factual inexactitudes.

  1. Off topic however had to share. His answer to me Prof Noakes was born in Harare, Zimbabwe in 1949. As a youngster, he had a keen interest in sport and attended Diocesan College in Cape Town. Following this, he studied at the University of Cape Town (UCT) and obtained an MBChB degree in 1974, an MD in 1981 and a DSc (Med) in Exercise Science in 2002.
    Thanks so much. Best wishes Tim
    Sent: Sunday, February 07, 2016 5:40 PM
    Subject: A BIG Thank You For Saving My Life
    Russell says:
    February 6, 2016 at 4:35 am the only reason I became interested in this Climate Change FRAUD; was because I developed Type 2 Diabetics. I was on 6 different Meds rushed to hospital 4 times in 7 month my heart rate 3 of those times was 150/165 beats a minute for 9 hours. The other time after a lung exam for pneumonia and was told to report emergency room immediately. Meds were costing 2k per month that was 3 years ago my arthritis was so bad I was on 40 mm of prednisone per day. Today thanks to Dr., Tim Noakes I’am absolutely complete cured No meds, no health problems at all. All this on a high saturated fat diet No wheat, corn and rice and no sugar.Conclusion USDA/UN world health org., are behind this to make us all sick. Follow the Money does this sound familiar. This is a Blog Post To : What’s Up With That It’s a Blog on Climate Change i. e. very similar to what the Government is doing to us same tactics.
    This e-mail is subject to the UCT ICT policies and e-mail disclaimer published on our website at or obtainable from +27 21 650 9111. This e-mail is intended only for the person(s) to whom it is addressed. If the e-mail has reached you in error, please notify the author. If you are not the intended recipient of the e-mail you may not use, disclose, copy, redirect or print the content. If this e-mail is not related to the business of UCT it is sent by the sender in the sender’s individual capacity.

  2. Since the 2° figure was simply plucked out of the air to start with I can’t see this paper having much traction.

    • “This has been known for about a decade and the physics behind this concept are well-understood, but many different factors can lead to carbon budgets that are either slightly smaller or slightly larger. We wanted to understand these differences, and provide clarity on the issue for policymakers and the public.”
      Does anyone understand the physics that is being claimed here or is this yet another baseless statement?

      • Yep, I’d just copied that paragraph to comment on.
        It’s total BS. We do know the physics of radiative transmission to a fair degree of accuracy. However, we do not understand evaporation, condensation, cloud formation and precipitation well enough to model it mathematically, ie we don’t understand the key processes of what controls climate: WATER, in all its states.
        Even if we did have much higher resolution models that could actually do something with it, we DO NOT understand how those processes work in the atmosphere. So the authors are propagating the usual lies that models are all based on well understood physical laws. They are not.

      • That is to say we know some bits that are based on basic physical laws but all the bits that really matter we don’t.
        It’s a farce. A deception.

      • My experience with climate modelers, Mike, is that they don’t know that they don’t know. They get very angry and dismissive when it’s pointed out that they don’t know. Then, having rejected you, they go away still not knowing. And feeling righteous about their dismissal.
        So, I no longer think it’s all a lie. I think it’s all true, stubborn, and ground into the substratum, incompetence.

      • Mike, I think it’s even worse than you propose because the temperature of Antarctica has been essentially flat for the entire satellite record and there ain’t much water vapor there.

      • There is plenty of physics in flying in paper planes.
        Climate modelers are like kids who believe they have figured out the theory and engineering of flight because they make paper planes.
        Until climate scientists figure out how climate works within the entire ecosystem from deep oceans to the edge of space, and are able to demonstrate (not guess) how and why the climate changed over the last let’s say 100,000 years, they are just 8 year olds pretending to be jet pilots.

      • Ron:
        According to the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), it is a baseless statement.
        Chapter 2 from Working Group 3 in the IPCC’s Third Assessment Report (2001) says;

        no systematic analysis has published on the relationship between mitigation and baseline scenarios

        which means nobody knows what – if any – effect on climate would result from reducing emissions from human activities.
        And no subsequent IPCC report has amended that statement because there is still “no systematic analysis” that has been “published on the relationship between mitigation and baseline scenarios”.

    • An arbitrary limit on a non physical quantity. That’s just about how “well-understood ” the physics behind this concept is.

    • the 2° figure was simply plucked out of the air
      mainstream IPCC studies generally show that global warming is beneficial up until 2C. so right now global warming is like money in the bank. it is actually a net benefit and will be for at least the next 50 years. It will take another 50 years after that before the negative benefits of temp over 2C add up to the benefits of temps under 2C.
      so enjoy the warmer greener earth while it lasts. in 100 years you could be dead or someone just might have solved the problem of global warming by then. trying to solve a problem 100 years in the future while ignoring current problems is a fools errand.

    • ..But Elves burn soooo much ” Greener ” !! ( if you can put up with all the screaming and begging as you light them ) ;)) ..

    • Don, let’s do the analysis:
      1) Unicorns are ethereal, which sometimes means “too perfect for this world.” However, for purpose of the analysis we’ll assume it means “of diethyl ether.”
      2) A unicorn is about the same size as a small horse, say 800 lbs
      3) A gallon of ether weighs 5.95 lbs
      4) So a typical unicorn is about 134 gallons of ether
      5) A gallon of ether contains about 69000 BTU’s of energy
      In the final analysis 134 * 69000 = (roughly 9.2mm BTU’s)
      Put another way, 3 unicorns equal about one cord of seasoned hardwood.
      And there you have it, the official unicorn energy analysis

  3. If I understand the reviewed article, they want to regulate something they cannot really measure, to prevent something they assume will have an effect that they cannot quantify. Damn, I wish I could sound so sincere blowing smoke.

    • It’s similar to the “problem” of CAGW, then. Uncertain bad things of uncertain magnitude are going to happen at uncertain times with uncertain frequency in uncertain locations. So we must end capitalism. Obviously.

      • Well, color me confused then because something doesn’t seem to add up. Is the carbon budget they are talking about an annual budget or the total from now until 2030? In 2030 it looks like a world annual total of 33,000,000,000 or 33 billion tons, plus or minus. If they are talking 590 to 2,300 billion tons what’s the problem?

    • “millions of tonnes”. By the way, the term “tonnes” indicates metric tons, which tonne is a 1 followed by ‘000,000″ grams.

    • No, a budget in this case is an estimate, which is kind of like, might be, maybe, could, possibly. There is so little real science happening here that it would be best described as “spit-balling” aka wad it up in your mouth and then shoot it through a straw and see if it sticks t someone.

  4. Never heard of IIASA. Is this one of those groups that I can make my Hamster a Member like Anthony registered his dog in AGS?
    Its amazing how someone gets paid to do these studies, where do I sign up?

  5. Climate scientists seem to be purposely screwing up the Carbon Cycle calculations lately which this article does very well. They are publishing garbage in Nature magazine even since they are all willing to go along with the latest line.
    There is an amount of CO2 that is naturally absorbed by plants, oceans and soils. If we get our emissions down to that natural absorption rate, CO2 will stop rising in the atmosphere.
    It would still require a reduction of about 30% within the next 40 years but that would result in CO2 stabilizing permanently at 560 ppm even with on-going human emissions of about 28 GTs CO2 per year.

  6. Am I actually the first to say this:
    ‘It’s worse than we thought!’
    Wow, I actually got that in before anybody else. I can go to my grave fulfilled.

    • ‘It’s worse than we thought!’
      Well, no, really. These people are setting this up for the year 2030.
      Their aim and talk about what needs to be done is the motive. When 2030 rolls along, they will have 15-years of homogenized data showing CO2 has been cut by all parties and as a result we stayed within the 2C increase and averted catastrophe.
      They are laying out the ground work for their ticker tape parade in New York in 2030 for all the ‘climate scientists’ who worked so hard diligently fighting the evil carbon and through their many personal sacrifices saved mankind.
      ‘Climate scientist’ are human and they dreeeammmm….

  7. Speaking of CO2 emissions, below is the link to an article about a startup company called Liquid Light which says it has developed the technology to capture CO2 emissions and turn it into commercially useful products like anti-freeze, fuels, etc., with water and electricity. The company has apparently succeeded in attracting investments from individuals and other companies to scale up this technology.
    If they want to capture CO2 to do this, it should NOT be because they see CO2 as pollutant (and there is plenty of science that says it is not). They should do it because the technology takes CO2 and makes commercially useful products with it in the absence of crude oil.
    Of course, open questions remain as to whether the products made from this technology are cost-effective compared to their crude oil-base counterparts and how much crude oil this technology can displace. All of this remains to be seen…..

  8. The 2c figure was recently made up because they knew global temperature had no chance of even remotely warming any more than this. Changing the goal posts are the best technique they are good at because alarmist claims are always wrong. After realizing this when previous estimates were between about 4 c to 7 c warming, all model based of course because they have nothing else.
    The ultimate inconvenient truth is they can’t find the carbon sensitivity so they have to make it up as they go along.

    We now better understand the carbon budget for keeping global warming below 2 degrees.

    We continue to lie because we don’t have a clue and no science paper has found out what it is. The only thing better understood that is not mentioned is that 2 c is now far more realistic than 4c to 7c. This value is still far too pessimistic, exaggerated and likely to be at least half of this again in the not too distant future.

  9. if we don’t ________ immediately, we will ________ in ____________ [decades/years/months/weeks/days].”
    The basis of a climate scare generator.

  10. Hello Bill
    You are assuming that the carbon cycle is in balance (including human emmissions) as shown in the pretty IPCC pictures depict. It does not, never has. This has been understood by key people putting the budgets together since the 1990’s.
    The IPCC led campaign on CO2 (while wrong both in factual and political context), will continue as there is an almost complete lack of evidential based response from the luke warmers to deniers (truth keepers).
    While there are some very competant scientists producing very good work, it is an industry that has very clear education based guidlines on thinking. That CFC’s causes the ozone hole is a classic example, and it is the acceptance of without any evidence that has held back global atmospheric science progress for over 30 years.
    The evidence is very clear as to what is causing the northern hemisphere temperature anomalies, and has been for some time.

  11. Budgets are like diets – they seem like a great idea, but hardly anybody can stick to them.
    As someone once said, “Everybody I know with a balanced budget is flat broke.”

  12. We can sit here and earnestly discuss nations’ “carbon budgets” for the next 15 years or whatever – we are just wasting our out-breathed CO2 : sovereign nations are never restricted in their actions by some agreement entered into 15 years before. That is “REALPOLITIK”, to use a good German word (which Hitler certainly understood).

  13. Raise the number to 3 C° and see if that doesn’t solve most of the problems.
    Well, just in case there is a problem.

  14. A plant-based lifestyle is where it’s at, even if only part-time, every step helps to make a positive impact. We must abolish factory farming and animal agriculture which is the leading cause of climate change issues. Stop beating around the bush and strike at the roots of the problem!

  15. Carbon taxes, cap & trade & now . . . carbon rationing? If the West gives China billions of dollars (borrowed from China), they might consider, possibly, to limit CO2 by an unspecified amount by 2030 or maybe not. Isn’t it good to know the physics behind the concept of limiting an AGT increase to 2°C is well understood? I guess that’s settled, like everything else in climate science.

  16. 2°C? Don’t they know that 1.5°C is the new ‘dangerous’.
    But I want to know is this : If we kept global warming below 1.5°C, there would still be storms ,floods droughts, heatwaves, etc. How would I know how better off I was? Let me guess. Models would be predicting how it would be so much worse if 1.5°C had been exceeded.

  17. Interesting point – Scotland’s heraldic animal isn’t the lion rampant. It’s the other one on the coat of arms.
    The one with the long, pointy thing. Not a lot of Scots even know that.

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