Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences at the University of Colorado Boulder

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.


Monday, April 13, 2015
2015 - 12:15 to 13:15





  • CIRES employees
  • CU Boulder employees
  • General Public
  • NOAA employees
  • Science collaborators


  • Seminar
  • Open to Public



CSTPR Conference Room, 1333 Grandview Avenue