Public perceptions of CCS in context: Results of NearCO2 focus groups in the UK, Belgium, the Netherlands, Germany, Spain and Poland

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This paper presents initial findings from focus groups with the general public, conducted as part of the European (FP7) NearCO2 project on public perceptions and understanding of CCS in six European countries. The research design specifically enabled the evolution of opinion to be observed in a relatively naturalistic setting. Each focus group was exposed to a specially-commissioned DVD that provided an overview of CCS, its rationale and arguments for and against CCS. Exposure was phased and a pre- and post-questionnaire was applied. The results concurred with much of the preceding work on CCS perceptions, namely a strong preference for renewable energy and a high level concern about the safety implications of CO2 leakage. There were few strong differences between groups, with the exception of a higher level of concern about climate change in Spain, related to experience of drought. In all groups, concerns about safety quickly amplified and information on the difficulty in rapidly installing very high levels of renewable energy supply infrastructure had little influence on opinion. We conclude that the case for CCS, and reassurance on the risks posed by CO2 leakage, will need to be made more convincingly and overtly, particularly for affected European publics. Moreover, in so far as the focus groups simulated the consequences of exposure to information on CCS without expert-moderation, they illustrate the importance of involving trusted parties in CCS communication processes, with the objective of moderating and responding to concerns as they arise.

Original languageEnglish
JournalEnergy Procedia
Pages (from-to)6338-6344
Number of pages7
Publication statusPublished - 01.01.2011
Externally publishedYes