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date: 23 April 2017

Communicating about Climate Change and Carbon Capture and Storage

This is an advance summary of a forthcoming article in the Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Climate Science. Please check back later for the full article.

Carbon capture and storage (CCS) has emerged as one potential strategy to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. It involves the capture of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from large point source emitters such as coal-fired power plants. The CO2 is transported to a storage location, where it is isolated from the atmosphere in stable underground reservoirs. CCS technology has been particularly intriguing to countries that utilize fossil fuels for energy production and are seeking ways to reduce their GHG emissions. While there has been an increase in technological development and research in CCS, some policy makers, as well as members of the public and industry, regard the technology as controversial. Some proponents see CCS as a climate change mitigation technology that will be essential to reducing CO2 emissions. Others view CCS as an environmentally risky, complex, and expensive technology that is resource-intensive, promotes the continued extraction of fossil fuels, and competes with renewable energy investments.

Effective communication about CCS begins with understanding the perceptions of the general public and individuals living in the communities where these projects are sited or proposed. Most people may never live near a CCS site, but may be concerned about risks such as the cost of development, environmental impacts, and competition with renewable energy sources. Those who live near proposed or operational projects are likely to have a strong impact on the development and deployment of CCS. Individuals in locally affected communities may be more concerned about disruptions to sense of place, impact on jobs or economy, or effect on local health and environment. Effective communication about the risks and benefits of CCS has been recognized as a critical factor in the deployment of this technology.