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Earth System Science Data The Data Publishing Journal

Global Carbon Budget 2017

12 March 2018

A very careful accounting of our planet's carbon budget, produced annually under the auspices of the Global Carbon Project, appears once again in the open-access data publishing journal Earth System Science Data. By compiling, analysing and evaluating data from many sources, including observation networks, historical reconstructions and advanced land and ocean biogeochemical models, an international team quantified sources and sinks for carbon for the most recent year, arriving at a Global Carbon Budget.

For the calendar year 2016, total carbon emissions from fossil fuel use and land use change amounted to slightly more than 11 gigatons of carbon (GtC), with basically no growth from 2015 but also with no measurable decline. Global uptakes of that emitted carbon amounted to roughly 2.5 GtC per year for both the land and ocean, resulting in an additional 6 GtC accumulating in the atmosphere. These atmosphere concentrations have risen substantially over the time period 2007 to 2016 due to increased emissions but also to fluctuations in the capacities of land or ocean to store carbon. A budget imbalance of approximately 0.3 GtC for 2016, the net difference between total sources and total sinks as calculated, reminds us of our imperfect understanding and quantification of the global carbon cycle. Based on preliminary economic and energy projections, this international team predicts a 2% increase in total carbon emissions for 2017.

Throughout their work, these energy, environment and ecosystem specialists have maintained full attribution and open access. The 70-some co-authors of the ESSD article describe all information sources and quantify certainties as well as uncertainties. Using the easily-accessible data, researchers, students, teachers, citizens and public officials can verify source information, look at historical trends, explore country-by-country emissions, or re-calculate local and global trends. This annual product represents an admirable collaboration among the international research community in partnership with open access journal and publisher.


The annual update of the global carbon budget is produced by the Global Carbon Project and was started in 2006. This is the 6th update of the global carbon budget published by ESSD in the living data format:

Le Quéré et al. (2018): Global Carbon Budget 2017, Earth System Science Data, https://doi.org/10.5194/essd-10-405-2018.