CCS and the public

CO2 capture and storage is increasingly being considered as a serious option to mitigate climate change. Industry and governments, mostly in North Western Europe, have taken on the effort of realizing large scale CCS operations. Meanwhile, the option has started to attract the attention from the larger public as well.

Public engagement in the development of CCS operations will increase over time, in terms of both the number of stakeholder groups participating and the extent to which these groups are involved. This process has already started and develops rapidly. The press has started to report on CCS and the option has been discussed in sessions of the European Citizen Consultations early 2007. Industries have also started to inform the public actively on proposed CCS projects.

Research findings up to now indicate that public awareness of CCS is low and that people know little about the option. To enable the public to form a fully considered opinion on a technology as complex as CCS, access to factual, comprehensive, and reliable information is required. For example, the public should be adequately informed as to how the implementation of a project may affect them.

However, currently little is known about what would constitute effective communication and participation methods in CCS projects and how these may differ for various audiences. By “effective” communication and participation methods, we mean: Suiting the public’s needs. These needs will differ by group, depending for instance on proximity to project sites. As perceived personal relevance is a key determinant of issue involvement, people living in the vicinity of a CCS project site are likely to have other information needs and opinions about CCS than the public at large.

Therefore, it is important to identify the information needed by the public, as well as the mechanisms that may affect the formation of public opinions.