The public perception of carbon dioxide capture and storage in the UK: results from focus groups and a survey

A series of meetings of two ‘Citizen Panels’ were held to explore public perceptions of off-shore carbon dioxide (CO2) capture and storage (CCS). In addition, a face-to-face survey of 212 randomly selected individuals was conducted. We found that, on first hearing about CCS in the absence of any information on its purpose, the majority of people either do not have an opinion at all or have a somewhat negative perspective. However, when (even limited) information is provided on the role of CO2 storage in reducing CO2 emissions to the atmosphere, opinion shifts towards expressing slight support for the concept. Support depends, however, upon concern about human-caused climate change, plus recognition of the need for major reductions in CO2 emissions. It also depends upon CCS being seen as just one part of a wider strategy for achieving significant cuts in CO 2 emissions. A portfolio including renewable energy technologies, energy efficiency, and lifestyle change to reduce demand was generally favoured. CCS can be part of such a portfolio, but wind, wave, tidal, solar and energy efficiency were preferred. It was felt that uncertainties concerning the potential risks of CCS had to be better addressed and reduced; in particular the risks of accidents and leakage (including the potential environmental, ecosystem and human health impacts which might result from leakage).