Reducing greenhouse gas emissions through carbon dioxide storage

Community attitudes towards carbon storage

Page 8 of 10

Internationally, carbon dioxide capture and storage (CCS) is being proposed as a key mitigation strategy for fossil fuel based activities.

Like many new and emerging technologies, CCS remains relatively unknown with some perceived risks.

CSIRO has been performing research into the public perceptions towards CCS.

In earlier research, CSIRO identified a range of concerns and benefits that are often associated with discussion of CCS. This is shown in Table 1 below.

 Benefits

 Concerns

It may provide a good bridge to a future low carbon economy Safety risks of a carbon dioxide leak
If successful, we can avoid large quantities of carbon dioxide (CO2) from release to the atmosphere The risk of contamination of ground water
Allows continued use of fossil fuels, which provides an economic advantage for some countries Will it harm plants and animals near storage sites?
Enhanced energy security in some countries Assumption that CO2 is explosive
Helps to clean up coal fired power plants for developing countries who need access to energy Is it the wrong solution for climate change, a band-aid?
Allows emissions to be reduced without having to change lifestyle too much Are there enough available storage sites?
It appears to require a large infrastructure which does not necessarily exist today
  Long term viability issues
  Cost - economic efficiency
  Scale required for successful CO2 mitigation
  It is an unknown technology
  Should not be pursued at the expense of renewable energy sources

Table 1: Public concerns and benefits in relation to CCS. Ashworth P, Boughen N, Mayhew M, Millar F. 2009. From research to action: Now we have to move on CCS communication. International Journal of Greenhouse Gas Control. 4: 426-433.

Research has determined a number of factors that are important when communicating CCS, these include:

  • CSIRO has been performing research into the public perceptions towards CCS.
    identifying and discussing benefits to the local community
  • trust in the messenger providing the information
  • positioning CCS as a transitional technology that will help with movement to a low carbon economy.

CSIRO, on behalf of the Global CCS Institute, hosted a one-day international conference in Paris, France, focusing on the communication of CCS.

International representatives from industry, government, non-government organisations, researchers, and communication practitioners came together to participate in an interactive day specifically tailored to summarise the current global position on communicating for CCS technologies.

CSIRO has conducted social science research, through the Energy Transformed Flagship, across major Australian cities to understand public perceptions towards climate change science and low emission energy technologies. Discussion of CCS was included in these workshops.

These types of iniatives are helping the CSIRO with the challenge of understanding public perceptions of CCS and other low emission technologies and how to communicate the risks and benefits of the technologies.

You can read more about the workshops and the results at: 

CRC for Greenhouse Gas Technologies (CO2CRC) logo.