Understanding key elements in establishing a social license for CCS: An empirical approach

This paper presents results of empirical research with the broad aim of exploring societal responses to CO2 storage, framed around the concept of social license to operate (SLO). We describe a mixed method approach incorporating stakeholder interviews and focus groups deployed in two case study locations in the UK. The approach helps us to build up an understanding of the social context in which Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) will be introduced, in terms of the specific local conditions and with reference to the influence of local experiences of other technologies (such as hydraulic fracturing (fracking), for example). This understanding is then used to guide further empirical research, from which we assess the extent to which an SLO for CCS is emerging. Results show that perceptions of trust and confidence in key institutions to safely manage projects are highly dependent not just on the track record of the organisations but are strongly influenced by past experiences with different technologies. While the indications for achieving an SLO for CCS are currently positive, consolidating and maintaining that support depends on the evolving social, industrial and political landscape.