Skip to main content

Thank you for visiting You are using a browser version with limited support for CSS. To obtain the best experience, we recommend you use a more up to date browser (or turn off compatibility mode in Internet Explorer). In the meantime, to ensure continued support, we are displaying the site without styles and JavaScript.

Beyond carbon budgets

The remaining carbon budget consistent with limiting warming to 1.5 °C allows 20 more years of current emissions according to one study, but is already exhausted according to another. Both are defensible. We need to move on from a unique carbon budget, and face the nuances.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution

Relevant articles

Open Access articles citing this article.

Access options

Rent or buy this article

Get just this article for as long as you need it


Prices may be subject to local taxes which are calculated during checkout

Fig. 1: Temperature and cumulative emissions pathways.
Fig. 2: Model differences.


  1. Millar, R. J. et al. Nat. Geosci. 10, 741–747 (2017).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  2. Goodwin, P. et al. Nat. Geosci. 11, 102–107 (2018).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  3. Tokarska, K. B. & Gillett, N. P. Nat. Clim. Change 8, 296–299 (2018).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  4. IPCC Climate Change 2014: Synthesis Report (eds Core Writing Team, Pachauri, R. K. & Meyer, L. A.) (IPCC, 2014).

  5. Rogelj, J. et al. Nature 534, 631–639 (2016).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  6. Rogelj, J. et al. Nat. Clim. Change 8, 325–332 (2018).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  7. Geden, O. Nat. Geosci. (2018).

  8. Allen, M. R. et al. Nature 458, 1163–1166 (2009).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  9. Peters, G. P. Nat. Clim. Change 6, 646–649 (2016).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  10. Rogelj, J. et al. Nat. Clim. Change 6, 245–252 (2016).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  11. Friedlingstein, P. et al. J. Clim. 19, 3337–3353 (2006).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  12. Jones, C. et al. J. Clim. 26, 4398–4413 (2013).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  13. Meinshausen, M., Raper, S. C. B. & Wigley, T. M. L. Atmos. Chem. Phys. 11, 1417–1456 (2011).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  14. Geden, O. & Löschel, A. Nat. Geosci. 10, 881–882 (2017).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  15. Schurer, A. P., Mann, M. E., Hawkins, E., Tett, S. F. B. & Hegerl, G. C. Nat. Clim. Change 7, 563 (2017).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  16. Hawkins, E. et al. Bull. Am. Met. Soc. 98, 1841–1856 (2017).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  17. Schurer, A. P. et al. Nat. Geosci. 11, 220–221 (2018).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  18. Millar, R. J. et al. Reply to ‘Interpretations of the Paris climate target’. Nat. Geosci. 11, 222–222 (2018).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  19. van Vuuren, D. P. et al. Clim. Change 109, 95–116 (2011).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  20. van Vuuren, D. P. et al. Nat. Clim. Change (2018).

  21. Shindell, D. et al. Science 335, 183–189 (2012).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  22. Geden, O. Nat. Geosci. 9, 340–342 (2016).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  23. Peters, G. P., Andrew, R. M., Solomon, S. & Friedlingstein, P. Environ. Res. Lett. 10, 105004 (2015).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  24. Tanaka, K. & O’Neill, B. C. Nat. Clim. Change 8, 319–324 (2018).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  25. Robiou du Pont, Y. et al. Nat. Clim. Change 7, 38–43 (2016).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  26. Meinshausen, M. et al. Clim. Change 109, 213–241 (2011).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  27. Hansen, J., Ruedy, R., Sato, M. & Lo, K. Rev. Geophys. 48, RG4004 (2010).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  28. GISS Surface Temperature Analysis (GISTEMP) (NASA GISS, accessed 27 March 2018);

Download references

Author information

Authors and Affiliations


Corresponding author

Correspondence to Glen P. Peters.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Peters, G.P. Beyond carbon budgets. Nature Geosci 11, 378–380 (2018).

Download citation

  • Published:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI:

This article is cited by


Quick links

Nature Briefing

Sign up for the Nature Briefing newsletter — what matters in science, free to your inbox daily.

Get the most important science stories of the day, free in your inbox. Sign up for Nature Briefing