Collection |

Carbon Accounting

We now live in a 400 parts per million world. Data from the Mauna Loa observatory, Hawaii, suggests carbon dioxide concentration levels are unlikely to consistently fall back below this level in our lifetimes.

Carbon accounting is crucial to efforts to tackle climate change, providing data on where emissions emanate and where they are absorbed. Decision-makers rely on the best information about the earth’s changing sinks and sources as they seek to constrain global emissions.

This collection brings together a selection of multi-disciplinary research and commentary from across the physical and social sciences that explores the major inputs and outputs that comprise the world’s carbon account.

Footprints and accounting

  • Nature Climate Change | Article

    Tourism is a significant contributor to the global economy, with potentially large environmental impacts. Origin and destination accounting perspectives are used to provide a comprehensive assessment of global tourism’s carbon footprint.

    • Manfred Lenzen
    • , Ya-Yen Sun
    • , Futu Faturay
    • , Yuan-Peng Ting
    • , Arne Geschke
    •  &  Arunima Malik
  • Nature Communications | Article | open

    Traditional carbon accounting attributes gap between consumption- and production-based emissions to international trade. The authors develop a dynamic model that incorporates capital stock change and find it improves estimates for fast-developing countries.

    • Zhan-Ming Chen
    • , Stephanie Ohshita
    • , Manfred Lenzen
    • , Thomas Wiedmann
    • , Magnus Jiborn
    • , Bin Chen
    • , Leo Lester
    • , Dabo Guan
    • , Jing Meng
    • , Shiyun Xu
    • , Guoqian Chen
    • , Xinye Zheng
    • , JinJun Xue
    • , Ahmed Alsaedi
    • , Tasawar Hayat
    •  &  Zhu Liu
  • Nature Climate Change | Comment

    The Paris Agreement has increased the incentive to verify reported anthropogenic carbon dioxide emissions with independent Earth system observations. Reliable verification requires a step change in our understanding of carbon cycle variability.

    • Glen P. Peters
    • , Corinne Le Quéré
    • , Robbie M. Andrew
    • , Josep G. Canadell
    • , Pierre Friedlingstein
    • , Tatiana Ilyina
    • , Robert B. Jackson
    • , Fortunat Joos
    • , Jan Ivar Korsbakken
    • , Galen A. McKinley
    • , Stephen Sitch
    •  &  Pieter Tans
  • Nature Geoscience | Article

    The decline in China’s CO2 emissions in the past few years is largely due to changes in industrial structure and a decline in the share of coal for energy production, according to a quantitative analysis of the drivers of CO2 emissions.

    • Dabo Guan
    • , Jing Meng
    • , David M. Reiner
    • , Ning Zhang
    • , Yuli Shan
    • , Zhifu Mi
    • , Shuai Shao
    • , Zhu Liu
    • , Qiang Zhang
    •  &  Steven J. Davis
  • Nature Communications | Article | open

    China has entered a new normal phase of economic development with a changing role in global trade. Here the authors show that emissions embodied in China’s exports declined from 2007 to 2012, while developing countries become the major destinations of China’s export emissions.

    • Zhifu Mi
    • , Jing Meng
    • , Dabo Guan
    • , Yuli Shan
    • , Malin Song
    • , Yi-Ming Wei
    • , Zhu Liu
    •  &  Klaus Hubacek
  • Nature Climate Change | Article

    Fisheries generated a total of 179 million tonnes of CO2-equivalent GHG emissions in 2011 (4% of global food production). Emissions grew by 28% between 1990 and 2011, primarily driven by increased harvests from fuel-intensive crustacean fisheries.

    • Robert W. R. Parker
    • , Julia L. Blanchard
    • , Caleb Gardner
    • , Bridget S. Green
    • , Klaas Hartmann
    • , Peter H. Tyedmers
    •  &  Reg A. Watson

Sources and sinks

  • Nature Climate Change | Article

    This research presents global baseline estimates of mangrove soil C stocks enabling countries to begin to assess their mangrove soil C stocks and the emissions that might arise from mangrove deforestation.

    • Trisha B. Atwood
    • , Rod M. Connolly
    • , Hanan Almahasheer
    • , Paul E. Carnell
    • , Carlos M. Duarte
    • , Carolyn J. Ewers Lewis
    • , Xabier Irigoien
    • , Jeffrey J. Kelleway
    • , Paul S. Lavery
    • , Peter I. Macreadie
    • , Oscar Serrano
    • , Christian J. Sanders
    • , Isaac Santos
    • , Andrew D. L. Steven
    •  &  Catherine E. Lovelock
  • Nature | Letter

    Long-term records of global carbonyl sulfide levels reveal that terrestrial gross primary production (GPP) increased by around 30% during the twentieth century—a finding that may aid understanding of the connection between GPP growth and climate change.

    • J. E. Campbell
    • , J. A. Berry
    • , U. Seibt
    • , S. J. Smith
    • , S. A. Montzka
    • , T. Launois
    • , S. Belviso
    • , L. Bopp
    •  &  M. Laine
  • Nature Ecology & Evolution | Article

    Low-frequency passive microwave data (L-VOD) allow quantification of biomass change in sub-Saharan Africa between 2010 and 2016, revealing climate-induced carbon losses, particularly in drylands.

    • Martin Brandt
    • , Jean-Pierre Wigneron
    • , Jerome Chave
    • , Torbern Tagesson
    • , Josep Penuelas
    • , Philippe Ciais
    • , Kjeld Rasmussen
    • , Feng Tian
    • , Cheikh Mbow
    • , Amen Al-Yaari
    • , Nemesio Rodriguez-Fernandez
    • , Guy Schurgers
    • , Wenmin Zhang
    • , Jinfeng Chang
    • , Yann Kerr
    • , Aleixandre Verger
    • , Compton Tucker
    • , Arnaud Mialon
    • , Laura Vang Rasmussen
    • , Lei Fan
    •  &  Rasmus Fensholt
  • Nature | Letter

    Methane fluxes from the stems of Amazonian floodplain trees indicate that the escape of soil gas through wetland trees is the dominant source of methane emissions in the Amazon basin.

    • Sunitha R. Pangala
    • , Alex Enrich-Prast
    • , Luana S. Basso
    • , Roberta Bittencourt Peixoto
    • , David Bastviken
    • , Edward R. C. Hornibrook
    • , Luciana V. Gatti
    • , Humberto Marotta
    • , Luana Silva Braucks Calazans
    • , Cassia Mônica Sakuragui
    • , Wanderley Rodrigues Bastos
    • , Olaf Malm
    • , Emanuel Gloor
    • , John Bharat Miller
    •  &  Vincent Gauci

Budget approaches

  • Nature Climate Change | Perspective

    Estimates of carbon budgets compatible with limiting warming to below specific temperature limits are reviewed, and reasons underlying their differences discussed along with their respective strengths and limitations.

    • Joeri Rogelj
    • , Michiel Schaeffer
    • , Pierre Friedlingstein
    • , Nathan P. Gillett
    • , Detlef P. van Vuuren
    • , Keywan Riahi
    • , Myles Allen
    •  &  Reto Knutti
  • Nature Geoscience | Comment

    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.

    • Glen P. Peters
  • Nature Climate Change | Letter

    Limiting warming to 1.5 °C requires staying within an allowable carbon budget. An analysis of warming and carbon budgets from the past decade shows that the median remaining budget is 208 PgC, corresponding to about 20 years of emissions at the 2015 rate.

    • Katarzyna B. Tokarska
    •  &  Nathan P. Gillett
  • Nature Communications | Article | open

    The drivers of the increase in atmospheric methane since 2006 remain unclear. Here, the authors use satellite and in situ measurements of CO and CH4 to show that fossil fuels and biogenic sources contribute 12–19 Tg CH4per year and 12–16 Tg CH4per year respectively to the recent atmospheric methane increase.

    • John R. Worden
    • , A. Anthony Bloom
    • , Sudhanshu Pandey
    • , Zhe Jiang
    • , Helen M. Worden
    • , Thomas W. Walker
    • , Sander Houweling
    •  &  Thomas Röckmann
  • Nature Geoscience | Article

    If CO2 emissions after 2015 do not exceed 200 GtC, climate warming after 2015 will fall below 0.6 °C in 66% of CMIP5 models, according to an analysis based on combining a simple climate–carbon-cycle model with estimated ranges for key climate system properties.

    • Richard J. Millar
    • , Jan S. Fuglestvedt
    • , Pierre Friedlingstein
    • , Joeri Rogelj
    • , Michael J. Grubb
    • , H. Damon Matthews
    • , Ragnhild B. Skeie
    • , Piers M. Forster
    • , David J. Frame
    •  &  Myles R. Allen
  • Nature Climate Change | Comment

    The Paris Agreement is based on emission scenarios that move from a sluggish phase-out of fossil fuels to large-scale late-century negative emissions. Alternative pathways of early deployment of negative emission technologies need to be considered to ensure that climate targets are reached safely and sustainably.

    • Michael Obersteiner
    • , Johannes Bednar
    • , Fabian Wagner
    • , Thomas Gasser
    • , Philippe Ciais
    • , Nicklas Forsell
    • , Stefan Frank
    • , Petr Havlik
    • , Hugo Valin
    • , Ivan A. Janssens
    • , Josep Peñuelas
    •  &  Guido Schmidt-Traub