Carbon Budget

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A carbon budget is a tolerable quantity of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions that can be emitted over a specified time.[1] The amount of GHG emitted into the atmosphere by a person, family, product, building, organization, or company is referred to as the carbon footprint. Greenhouse gases include, but are not limited to, carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous oxide, and are often measured in carbon dioxide equivalents (CO2e).[2]

Personal Carbon Budget[edit]

Example product
Carbon Footprint
Emissions Facts
Per product size
Total:500 kg CO2e
Carbon Budget
Per person annual emissions
2020: 4100 kg CO2e
2030: 3300 kg CO2e
2040: 2300 kg CO2e
2050: 1500 kg CO2e
500 kg CO2e

One source has calculated personal carbon budgets for each decade until 2050 based on reports developed by the International Energy Agency and the United Nations. The budgets are based on maintaining temperature increases to two degrees celsius above pre-industrial levels by 2100. The amount of GHG emissions in each budget represent yearly emissions per capita from categories such as housing, travel, food, and other goods and services. They do not include GHG emissions from land use, government sources, or capital sources.[3]

Yearly Budgets[edit]

  • 2020: 4100 kg CO2e
  • 2030: 3300 kg CO2e
  • 2040: 2300 kg CO2e
  • 2050: 1500 kg CO2e[3]

Some product pages include a chart, similar to the chart in the example product infobox, that shows the amount of a personal carbon budget used when consuming the good or service. The carbon footprint is usually based on the amount of a product that a person is expected to consume in one year. An overview of how this information was derived can usually be found in the introduction or usage section of the product page. In the sample chart you can see that the example product has an annual global warming potential of 500 kg CO2e, represented by the orange section of the chart. The numbers on the chart represent the budgets and percent of each budget used by the product. For example, this example product uses 12% of 4100 kg CO2e budget for the year 2020.


  1. Understanding Carbon Budgets. World Wide Fund for Nature. 2014. Web. 21 Nov. 2016. Archived.
  2. Glossary of Climate Change Terms. United States Environmental Protection Agency. 9 Aug. 2016. Web. 19 Nov. 2016. Archived.
  3. 3.0 3.1 Carbon targets for your footprint. Shrink That Footprint. Web. 19 Nov. 2016. Archived.