Although it may be possible to transition to a wholly renewable European power system by 2050, the prospects of achieving this for both heat and power, while also increasingly electrifying transport, are doubtful. This begs the question of how to deal with major on-going carbon emissions from the energy sector. CCS being the key option in this regard, NEARCO2 is a European project focusing on public perceptions of CCS in the UK, Belgium, Holland, Spain and Germany.
Public awareness of CCS in Europe has been low but is increasing – this process is likely to continue as Europe rolls out its CCS demonstration programme and as climate targets increase in urgency. As awareness grows, CCS is increasingly subject to critical attention at a variety of levels – from the policy level (e.g. what role CCS should play in future European energy systems) – to the siting level (particularly local public acceptance of new pipelines and storage sites).
NEARCO2 has reviewed public participation regulations relating to CCS in the five countries concerned and has identified opinion-shaping factors across a number of live CCS and analogous cases. A conceptual model of CCS-related communications and recommendations on participation strategies are to be developed. Focus groups with the public have been held in the five countries, using a DVD developed for the project, which explains the climate change rationale for CCS, provides an overview of the technology, and gives arguments for and against its use. This DVD is multi-lingual and will be publicly available as the project progresses. A large scale internet-based survey of local public opinion relating to potential CCS sites is currently under development.