CCS industrial clusters: Building a social license to operate

A recently published paper from Clair Gough and Sarah Mander explores the opportunities for, and progress in, establishing a social licence to operate (SLO) for CCS in industrial clusters in the UK, focusing on the perspectives of key stakeholders. SLO refers to the level of support or opposition granted a project, technology or industry by those who perceive their interests to be impacted (positively or negatively). A strong SLO requires the project, and those who support it, to be seen as being legitimate, credible and trustworthy.

This research analyses the evolution of narratives and networks relating to geographical clusters as niches for CCS in industrial decarbonisation. Evidence is drawn from a combination of cluster mapping, documentary analysis and stakeholder interviews to identify the wider contexts underpinning industrial decarbonisation, stakeholder networks, interaction and communication, critical narratives, the conditions for establishing trust and confidence, different scales of social licence and maintaining a SLO. The delivery of a sustainable industrial decarbonisation strategy will depend on multiple layers of social licence involving discourses at different scales and, potentially, for different systems (heat, transport, different industrial processes). Despite setbacks as a result of funding cancellations and changes to government policy, the UK is positioned to be at the forefront of CCS deployment. While there is a high ambition and a strong narrative from government of the urgency to accelerate projects involving CCS, clear coordinated strategy and funding frameworks are necessary to build confidence that UK policy is both compatible with net zero and economically viable.

An industrial cluster approach can support CCS, building a social licence across different scales and systems, by recognising local benefits, aligning priorities and developing partnerships.

Read more – Gough, C., Mander, S., 2022. CCS industrial clusters: Building a social license to operate. International Journal of Greenhouse Gas Control 119, 103713.