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Global and Personal Climate Budget - What is it?

Climate budget - All about the global and personal CO2 budget

What is the climate budget? This much is already said: it is one of the best weapons in the fight against the global warmingthat we need to win. Climate-related disasters are already multiplying - Arctic sea ice is melting, Species become extinctPeople die of thirst, pandemics spread. And we long for normality - yet it is our idea of "normal" that is at the root of the Environmental problems of our time is. We need to change our behavior and define a new normal. Every tenth of a degree that our planet heats up costs lives. The CO2 budget, is a constant motivator to commit to climate protection every day.

In this article I would like to tell you more about our global and your personal climate budget. You will also learn how much CO2 we are still allowed to produce and emit and how you yourself can become part of the solution.

  1. Definition
  2. Remaining budget
  3. Closing words

What is the climate budget?


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The climate budget (also called CO2 budget) describes the amount of CO2 emissions from man-made sources that may still be released, to prevent global warming above 1.5°C or 2°C above pre-industrial levels. All the countries of the world had agreed on this limit with the climate agreement in Paris.

The climate budget provides us with a measurable and comparable value that illustrates the urgency of changing human actions.

Notice: Although the video is about Switzerland, climate change is not a challenge that stops at national borders. The content therefore naturally also applies to us in Germany.

Global climate budget

Calculated from the end of 2017, we can only provide people with about 420 gigatons of CO2 into the atmosphere to meet the 1.5-degree target. Currently, however, 42 gigatons are emitted annually, so again in terms of the start of the calculation at the end of 2017, this budget is expected to be used up in just nine years. These estimates are based on the latest calculations by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and are updated on an ongoing basis.₁

Personal climate budget

How much CO2 we are still allowed to consume can be related to the entire, global population, but of course also to each individual person, for example you and me. The climate protection organization atmosfair has calculated that each individual person has about 2.3 tons of CO2 available each year to act in a climate-friendly way. In 2019, however, each German was responsible for emitting an average of 7.9 tons of CO2.₂ For example, by taking several plane trips, driving long distances or consuming food that is harmful to the climate. In India, comparatively only 1.4 tons of CO2 per capita are consumed annually.₃

Tip: By switching to a more plant-based diet, you can simply but significantly reduce your personal CO2 emissions. In addition, with this prank you also solve many other problems at the same time. In the article Reasons for veganismus you will learn more about it.

How much CO2 are we still allowed to produce and emit?

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Further up in the article I already mentioned that, calculated from the end of 2017, only about 420 gigatons of CO2 may be consumed. Here above embedded you see the CO2 clock of the MCC (Mercator Research Institute on Global Commons and Climate Change), which shows to the day and on the basis of the latest calculations how much CO2 we humans are still allowed to emit in order to achieve the 1.5 or the 2 degree target. This clock is to be understood as a political symbol that makes the biggest environmental problem of our time visible - because the clock is ticking. Even if the world does not suddenly end after the countdown: we are running out of time.

Using the climate budget as a guide

With the help of the climate budget, we humans can orient ourselves and continuously optimize our behavior - whether you and I as individuals, whether commercial enterprises, whether the state. Every gram of CO2 that each of us emits less gives us time to adapt our lifestyles. Time that we must use wisely to develop new technologies, to live more sustainably and consume more consciously.

Here are some more related articles that will help you reduce your personal CO2 budget:

Do you have questions about the CO2 budget or suggestions for the article? Then feel free to write me a comment!

Stay sustainable,

Christoph from CareElite - Plastic-free living

PS.: Feel free to look further in the Knowledge blog around. There you will learn, for example, what is behind the so-called Earth Overload Day is stuck.

₁ Mercator Research Institute on Global Commons and Climate Change (MCC) gGmbH, available at [20.05.2020].

₂ Statista GmbH: Development of per capita CO2 emissions in Germany from 1990 to 2019, available at [20.05.2020].

₃ atmosfair gGmbH: Air travel and the personal climate budget, available at [20.05.2020].

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* Links with asterisks are so-called Affiliate links. If you click on it and buy something, you automatically and actively support my work with, because I get a small share of the sales revenue - and of course the product price does not change. Thank you for your support and best regards, Christoph!


Christoph Schulz

I'm Christoph, an environmental scientist and author - and here at CareElite I'm campaigning against plastic waste in the environment, climate change and all the other major environmental problems of our time. Together with other environmentally conscious bloggers, I want to give you tips & tricks for a naturally healthy, sustainable life as well as your personal development.

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