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CSTPR Noontime Seminar: Steven Vanderheiden

CSTPR Noontime Seminar: Steven Vanderheiden

Mobilizing Individual Responsibility Through Personal Carbon Budgeting

by Steven Vanderheiden, Center for Science and Technology Policy Research, Political Science, and Environmental Studies, CU Boulder

Abstract: In this talk, I consider proposals for personal carbon trading (PCT), through which individuals are placed on carbon budgets through the granting of personal emissions allowances with the requirement that they purchase additional carbon credits to account for their emissions in excess of such allowances.  Such downstream rationing schemes, I shall suggest, have two important merits.  First, they increase the visibility of carbon embedded in goods and services while encouraging personal carbon budgeting, which alternative policy mechanisms fail to do, which harnesses the benefits of information in encouraging social decarbonization.  Second, they allow for the fairer allocation of climate change mitigation burdens among sub-state actors than alternatives like a carbon tax.  PCT schemes, I shall further argue, are less vulnerable to three common objections to carbon trading, while realizing the advantages associated with trading systems.  In combination, I shall argue, they more effective mobilize responsibility norms and model responsibility principles than can carbon pricing alternatives (including taxes and upstream rationing schemes), warranting further consideration as domestic policy tools despite their greater implementation costs.

Bio: Steve Vanderheiden is Associate Professor of political science and environmental studies at the University of Colorado at Boulder, and member of the Center for Science and Technology Policy Research (CSTPR).  He is also Professorial Fellow with the Centre for Applied Philosophy and Public Ethics (CAPPE) in Australia.  Vanderheiden specializes in political theory and environmental politics, with a current interest in issues at the intersection of informational governance and climate policy.


CSTPR Conference Room, 1333 Grandview Avenue


Event Type

Analytical Chemistry Seminar: Rebecca Washenfelder

Analytical Chemistry Seminar: Rebecca Washenfelder

Jointly sponsored by the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, CIRES, and the Environmental Program

Optical properties of brown carbon aerosol in the near-ultraviolet spectral region

by Rebecca Washenfelder - NOAA Chemical Sciences Division

Aerosol scattering and absorption are among the largest uncertainties in radiative forcing.  Black carbon is a strong radiative forcing agent, and absorbs strongly throughout the ultraviolet and visible spectral regions.  In contrast, brown carbon has a wavelength-dependent absorption that increases sharply in the ultraviolet spectral region and its importance in radiative forcing is more unknown.  Part of this uncertainty arises from the need to characterize potential sources of brown carbon aerosol, which include fossil fuel combustion, biomass burning, and secondary organic aerosol aging processes.

We have developed a new method to measure aerosol optical extinction as a function of wavelength for in situ aerosol, using cavity enhanced spectroscopy.  We have demonstrated this method over the 360-420 nm spectral region, and plan to extend it to 300 nm.  We retrieve complex refractive indices as a function of wavelength from the measured extinction cross sections.  In the laboratory, this technique has allowed us to examine a proposed mechanism to produce brown carbon aerosol from the reaction of ammonia or amino acids with carbonyl products in secondary organic aerosol.   

During the Southern Oxidant and Aerosol Study in summer 2013, we acquired field measurements of aerosol optical extinction at 360-420 nm. We combined these data with direct absorption measurements of water-soluble organic carbon obtained from a UV/VIS-WSOC instrument, and with aerosol composition measurements.  I will present the magnitude of brown and black carbon absorption and the relative contributions of biomass burning, anthropogenic, and secondary organic aerosol contributions to brown carbon absorption in the Southeast U.S. during the summer.


CIRES Fellows Room, Ekeley S274