Public perceptions of CCS: Emergent themes in pan-European focus groups and implications for communications

This paper reports on European public perceptions of carbon capture and storage (CCS) as determined through six focus groups, one held in each of the UK, the Netherlands, Poland, Germany, Belgium and Spain. The development of opinion and the emergence of concerns were observed via phased exposure to a specially commissioned film providing an overview of CCS technology, its rationale and associated debates, supplemented by additional information on national energy mixes. In general there was a high level of commonality in opinion and concerns across the six countries, with only minor differences. The concerns that emerged were not allayed by the information provided. On the contrary, there was evidence of a shift from initial uncertainty about CCS to negative positions. CCS was generally perceived as an uncertain, end-of-pipe technology that will perpetuate fossil-fuel dependence. Noting the political. context to CCS, we conclude that advocates will likely find the European public opinion context a challenging one in which to achieve deployment, particularly for onshore storage, except where local communities perceive real economic or other benefits to CCS. (C) 2011 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.