EGU General Assembly 2023
© Author(s) 2023. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Assessing the size and uncertainty of remaining carbon budgets

Robin Lamboll1,6, Zebedee Nicholls2,3, Chris Smith4,5, Jarmo Kikstra1,4,6, Edward Byers4, and Joeri Rogelj1,4,6
Robin Lamboll et al.
  • 1Imperial College, Grantham Institute, London, United Kingdom of Great Britain – England, Scotland, Wales
  • 2Australian-German Climate and Energy College, The University of Melbourne, Parkville, Victoria, Australia
  • 3School of Earth Sciences, The University of Melbourne, Parkville, Victoria, Australia
  • 4International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis, Laxenburg, Austria
  • 5School of Earth and Environment, University of Leeds, Leeds, U.K
  • 6Grantham Institute -- Climate Change and Environment, Imperial College London, London, UK

The remaining carbon budget (RCB), the net amount of carbon dioxide humans can still emit without exceeding a chosen global warming limit, is often used to evaluate political action against the goals of the Paris Agreement. RCB estimates for 1.5C are small, and minor changes in their calculation can therefore result in large relative shifts. Here we evaluate recent RCB assessments by the IPCC and explain differences between them. We present calculation refinements together with robustness checks that increase confidence in RCB estimates. We conclude that the RCB for a 50% chance of keeping warming to 1.5C is around 250 GtCO2 as of January 2023, around 6 years of current CO2 emissions. This estimate changes to 480 and 60 GtCO2 for a 33% and 66% chance, respectively. Key uncertainties affecting RCB estimates are the contribution of non-CO2 emissions, which depends on socioeconomic projections as much as on geophysical uncertainty, and potential warming after net zero is reached. 

How to cite: Lamboll, R., Nicholls, Z., Smith, C., Kikstra, J., Byers, E., and Rogelj, J.: Assessing the size and uncertainty of remaining carbon budgets, EGU General Assembly 2023, Vienna, Austria, 24–28 Apr 2023, EGU23-7143,, 2023.