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Examining discourses on Carbon Capture and Storage
A Technological Solution for Climate Change?
Examining discourses on Carbon Capture and
Jasmine Livingston
Word Count: 11,971
This dissertation is submitted as part of a MA degree in Environment, Politics and
Globalisation at King’s College London
Examining discourses on Carbon Capture and Storage
I, Jasmine Livingston hereby declare (a) that
this Dissertation is my own original work and
that all source material used is acknowledged
therein; (b) that it has been specially prepared
for a degree of the University of London; and
(c) that it does not contain any material that
has been or will be submitted to the Examiners
of this or any other university, or any material
that has been or will be submitted for any other
This Dissertation is......……………………words.
Examining discourses on Carbon Capture and Storage
A Technological Solution for Climate Change? Examining discourses on
Carbon Capture and Storage
This study examines technological solutions for climate change, through the case
of Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS). It assesses discourse on CCS within
‘official’ and ‘public’ circles through document analysis and focus groups. It finds
that most ‘official’ stakeholders express ‘cautious optimism’, that the public are not
well informed and the shaping of opinion relies largely on perceptions of
stakeholders. The study concludes that CCS is complicated for the public to
understand, but that, unlike some energy technologies, involvement might not be
crucial to its success. Where public involvement is necessary, care should be
taken to consider underlying social reasoning.
Examining discourses on Carbon Capture and Storage
Table of Contents..........................................................................................4
List of Tables and figures..............................................................................4
List of Abbreviations......................................................................................8
1. Introduction..............................................................................................10
1.1. A ‘solution’ for climate change?........................................................10
1.2. Discourses of engagement...............................................................10
1.3. Aims and Objectives.........................................................................11
2. Carbon Capture and Storage..................................................................12
2.1. The Technology................................................................................12
2.2. The Policy.........................................................................................13
3. Context and Background.........................................................................15
3.1. Technology and Society....................................................................15
3.1.1. Solution or fix?.........................................................................15
3.1.2. Social perspectives..................................................................15
3.1.3. Technology and climate change..............................................16
3.2. ‘Citizen science’ / ‘Citizen policy’.......................................................17
3.2.1. Defining the actors...................................................................17
3.2.2. Models of engagement............................................................17
3.2.3. The Value of engagement.......................................................19
3.3. Academic Attention on CCS.............................................................19
3.3.1. Stakeholder Opinion................................................................20
3.3.2. Public Opinion.........................................................................21
3.3.3. This study................................................................................22
4. Methodology............................................................................................23
4.1. Conceptual model.............................................................................23
4.2. Choice of methods............................................................................25
Examining discourses on Carbon Capture and Storage
4.3. Document analysis............................................................................26
4.3.1. Sample....................................................................................26
4.3.2. Data gathering and analysis....................................................27
4.4. Focus Groups....................................................................................28
4.4.1. Sample.....................................................................................28
4.4.2. Data gathering and analysis.....................................................28
4.5. Positionality........................................................................................30
5. Results and Discussion............................................................................31
5.1. ‘Official’..............................................................................................31
5.1.1. Themes....................................................................................31
5.1.2. Relationships...........................................................................34
5.1.3. Language.................................................................................35
5.1.4. CCS as a solution....................................................................36
5.2. ‘Public’...............................................................................................37
5.2.1. Dynamics of focus groups.......................................................37
5.2.2. Climate change solutions.........................................................37
Role of technology........................................................38
5.2.3. Knowledge and perceptions of CCS........................................39
Costs and benefits........................................................39
Links with other technologies........................................40
5.2.4. Perception of actors.................................................................42
Organisations and public perceptions...........................42
Implications of language...............................................44
5.2.5. Involvement in climate change mitigation policy.....................45
6. Conclusion...............................................................................................48
6.1. Construction of a discourse...............................................................49
6.2. Technological solution / technological fix...........................................51
Appendix 1: Ethical approval and risk assessment.......................................54
Appendix 2: Further details on types of CCS................................................57
Appendix 3: Full list of documents for document analysis............................58
Examining discourses on Carbon Capture and Storage
Appendix 4: Document analysis sheet.........................................................60
Appendix 5: Focus group details.................................................................61
Appendix 6: Outline of focus group questions.............................................62
Appendix 7: Extract from focus group transcript.........................................68
References Cited........................................................................................75
Examining discourses on Carbon Capture and Storage
Table 1: Summary of documents analysed
Table 2: Overview of focus group questions
Figure 1: The stages of CCS
Figure 2: Conceptual model for this study
Figure 3: Main themes identified in stakeholder documents on CCS 2007-2012
Figure 4: Coverage of articles on CCS in UK National newspapers 2007-2012
Figure 5: Conceptual model incorporating findings of this study
Examining discourses on Carbon Capture and Storage
Advisory Committee on Carbon Abatement Technologies
British Petroleum
Carbon Capture Ready
Carbon Capture and Storage
Carbon Capture and Storage Association
Clean Development Mechanism
Carbon Dioxide
Department of Energy and Climate Change
Department of Trade and Industry
European Commission
European Union
Focus Group
International Energy Agency
Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change
International Risk Governance Council
New Entrance Reserve 300
Non-Governmental Organisations
Not In My Back Yard
National Readership Survey
Not Under My Back Yard
Research & Development
Scottish Carbon Capture and Storage
United Kingdom
United States of America
World Wildlife Fund
Examining discourses on Carbon Capture and Storage
I would like to thank Professor Ragnar Löfstedt for his help and guidance throughout
this project. I am also grateful to Professor Raymond Bryant and Dr Henry Rothstein
for their input at an early stage. I also want to thank all my focus group participants
and respondents without whom this research would not have been possible, my
friends and family for their proofreading and feedback and Tony for keeping me
Examining discourses on Carbon Capture and Storage
Political debate surrounding climate change is increasingly widespread. The need for
reductions of CO2 in order to limit temperature rise to within 2°C (UNFCCC, 2009) is
proclaimed within scientific and political circles (IPCC, 2007, 2011; Stern, 2007) and
debate is no longer focused on acceptance of the science, rather on mitigation
options (Bailey and Compston, 2010; King 2004).
Despite this, it appears that individuals are disengaged with climate change
mitigation efforts, evident through a pervasive ‘value-action gap’ (Blake, 1999). This,
along with the assumed failure of international agreements like the Kyoto Protocol,
has raised the profile of alternative technological solutions not requiring the same
level of individual engagement (Barratt, 2006; Foxon, 2009; Katz, 2009; New
Scientist, 2011; Rasch, 2010). These range from alternative energy options such as
nuclear or renewable sources (Foxon et al., 2005; Foxon and Pearson, 2008),
Carbon Abatement Technologies such as Carbon Capture and Storage (ACCAT,
2009) to geoengineering (Royal Society, 2009). Such debate, within political and
technical communities, has raised questions about technology’s capacity and right to
manage climate change. This paper is concerned with one of these technologies;
Carbon Capture and Storage (hereafter CCS), increasingly being framed as part of
innovation for a low carbon energy future (Markusson et al., 2012)
Public engagement with discussions on climate change mitigation options is
important (Leiserowitz, 2007) as it may lead to lifestyle changes. Presentation of
solutions and their subsequent take-up in society is essential to their success
(Reiner et al., 2008), likely to be particularly important for technological options
requiring complex understanding, as well as with some degree of risk (Kasperson et
al., 2005; Zimmerman, 1982).
In forming opinions on such issues, the public gains information from a wide range of
stakeholders, understanding of which is crucial (Weingart et al. 2000). Variations and
Examining discourses on Carbon Capture and Storage
misunderstanding in presentation and perceptions of discourses between ‘official’
stakeholders and the ‘public’ is a barrier to the uptake of such technologies
(Vicklund, 2000), contributing to public ‘disengagement’ with science and technology
(Collin and Evans, 2007).
This study examines several aspects of the above, in the context of CCS. Its aims
are twofold:
1. To examine the construction of discourses around the technology as a
particular climate change solution,
2. In doing this to look at the concept of a ‘technological solution’ for climate
change in the context of CCS.
The research is divided into two parts, the first concerned with so-called ‘official’
channels, the second broadening to include general ‘public’. Specific questions are:
What are the dominant framings utilised when presenting CCS?
How is CCS presented as a solution for climate change?
What shapes public opinion on CCS?
How does the public engage with ‘official’ views of CCS?
What implications does this have for the uptake of the technology?
Chapter 2 outlines the technological and policy context of CCS; Chapter 3 presents
the theoretical context, justifying this paper’s position in the context of other work
undertaken in this area; Chapter 4 outlines the conceptual framework and particular
methods adopted; results will then be summarised and discussed. The final chapter
presents the conclusions.
Examining discourses on Carbon Capture and Storage
CCS is the process of separating CO2 from industrial or power plant emissions,
transportation and storage in a location that isolates it from the atmosphere (this
process is summarised in Figure 1).
Figure 1: The stages of CCS (SCCS, 2011)
There are three types of CCS; post-combustion, pre-combustion and oxyfuel capture
(IPCC, 2005) (see appendix 2 for an overview). The first of these likely to be
commercially deployed is post-combustion capture (Gibbins and Chalmers, 2008),
where CO2 is separated from flue gases for compression and storage. This process
is thought to be able to remove around 90% of the CO2. Waste CO2 is transported by
pipeline and stored in depleted oil and gas fields or deep saline aquifers. Other
storage options, like ocean storage, are unfeasible due to the lack of public
acceptance and risks of negative environmental consequences (Palmgren et al.,
So far, large scale application of CCS is limited. There are some instances of smaller
scale application, such as at the Sleipner gas platforms in Norway, but worldwide
Examining discourses on Carbon Capture and Storage
only one full scale project has been approved for commercial development, with
three to start development in 2012 (Hazeldine, 2012).
The International Energy Agency believes that using CCS would considerably
reduce costs of attempts to realise worldwide commitments to limiting temperature
increase to 2-3°C (IEA, 2009). In the European Union (EU) the CCS Directive
(2009/231/EC) outlines the legal framework for the implementation of CCS. This was
followed by the decision on financing of CCS and renewable energy technologies
(2010/670/EU) which supports the implementation of CCS within Member States,
and in particular the consideration of ‘carbon capture-ready’ power plants (CCR)
(Liang et al., 2010). In May 2012 a CCS testing programme opened at Mongstad in
Norway. This illustrates the importance of international collaboration in enabling the
development of the technology. There is some concern that enabling large scale
CCS throughout the EU will be hindered by different government-industry
relationships within member states (Newbury et al., 2009). Despite these concerns
there are currently several CCS projects, within the UK at least, shortlisted for a
share of the €1.5bn European Investment Bank New Entrant Reserve (NER300)
scheme (Russell, 2012).
The UK government passed the Climate Change Act in 2008, committing to an 80%
reduction in carbon emissions by 2050, and thus complete decarbonisation of the
electricity system by 2030 (DECC, 2009b). The UK is thought to be ideal for
development of CCS, its industrial past having left an abundance of depleted
offshore oil and gas fields and existing infrastructure (DECC Science Advisory
Group, 2011; DTI, 2005). CCS is expensive, and experience with other pollutants
indicates that cost reduction can be realised through full scale commercial
deployment (Gibbins and Chalmers, 2008). With this in mind the Department of
Energy and Climate Change (DECC) launched a competition in 2007 under which
the first commercial scale development of CCS would be realised. In October 2011,
however, the last project at Longannet Power Station in Scotland was cancelled.
This was attributed to cost, but other reasons included a change in politics, lack of
public backing and decreased interest in climate change (Hammond and Shackley,
2010). The competition was revived in April 2012, broadening the remit to include
Examining discourses on Carbon Capture and Storage
gas power stations and both pre- and post-combustion CCS technologies; DECC is
offering £1bn to a developer who can prove the full chain of CCS technologies at a
commercial scale. In addition, stressing the need to reduce cost and enhance
efficiency, the government launched parallel competitions of £125m and £20m to
fund R&D and component development respectively (DECC, 2012). The need for
government backing is apparent, as without it, failure to engage is seen as an
innovation market failure (DECC, 2009a; Reiner, 2011), and the extent of public
sector financial support is taken as a measure of commitment to the technology as
part of its climate change portfolio.
Examining discourses on Carbon Capture and Storage
3.1.1 Solution or fix?
Technology has become a crucial part of our society (Jasanoff, 2004), impacting on
every aspect of our lives, and, thus, is constantly under scrutiny. The way technology
transforms our lives, and its potential to offer solutions has been questioned,
introducing the idea of the ‘technological fix’ in opposition to true technological
solutions (Fischer and Black, 1995; Rosner, 2004). Developing over the latter part of
the 20th Century, the concept has negative connotations as a “cheap, quick fix using
inappropriate technology which usually creates more problems than it solves”
(Rosner, 2004:1). The problems of technology have been connected to the ‘risk
society’ (Beck, 1992), as “the same science and technology that makes us modern
produces our risks and...advanced statistics enables us to calculate them” (Douglas
and Wildavsky, 1983:29). In addition, connections between technology and the
degradation of the environment have meant that negative implications of the
‘technological fix’ have been implicitly linked with environmental issues (LeCain,
Scientific or technical solutions appeal to “an administrative mind overcoming conflict
and trouble, diversity and plurality, to guide and govern a unified humanity with a
singularity of purpose” (Fisher and Black, 1995:6). Proponents believe that as
technology is the cause of the problem, it is therefore the solution, and have faith in
the superiority of science, technology and the market. This technocratic viewpoint is
embodied in the wider discourse of ‘ecological modernisation’ which promotes
supremacy of technical and business solutions for wider environmental crises (Bailey
et al., 2011; Mol et al., 2009).
3.1.2 Social perspectives
Many believe that the technocratic viewpoint is limited (Fischer and Black, 1995, Fri,
2003; Torvanger and Meadowcroft, 2011). The view of science and technology as
Examining discourses on Carbon Capture and Storage
‘neutral’ and ‘objective’ detaches it from wider social and economic contexts. There
is acknowledgment that a technological solution for a social problem cannot work
(Fisher and Black, 1995), as looking at technology independently separates it from
its social context (Reiner and Nuttall, 2009; Wynne, 1998). Theorists point to the
importance of considering interconnections and differences between involved
sectors, such as science, industry, politics and the public, as these are measures of
the socially constructed nature of an issue (Weingart et al., 2000). Kranzenberg’s 4th
law of technology states, “although technology might be a prime element in many
public issues, nontechnical factors take precedence in technology-policy decisions”
(1986:8); thus technology is socially constructed and framed, but also socially
legitimised (Blühdorn, 2011).
A ‘technological fix’ rather than an ‘attitudinal’ or ‘social’ one, therefore, does not
appeal to those who see it as ignoring social issues. Hemple (1995) examines a
‘successful’ technological fix – the catalytic converter. Here, car use is a given,
ignoring the fact that ‘mobility’ is itself a socially constructed concept. Such
perspectives are considered with regard to supposed technological solutions for
environmental problems. Jasanoff believes that in order to avoid accusation of either
social or technological determinism no primacy should be given to either side;
“science and society, in a word, are co-produced, each underwriting the other’s
existence” (2004:17). Thus they cannot, and should not, be separated.
3.1.3 Technology and climate change
Climate change is a complex problem, and its surrounding discourse “confusing,
contradictory and chaotic” (Ereaut and Segnit, 2006:7); as a result it requires a
‘clumsy solution’ (Verweij et al., 2006). The complexity of the climate change issue
raises the question as to whether one technology can ever be considered a solution;
should governments focus all their economic resources on one technology, or
distribute it across many (Hoffert et al., 2002; Torvanger and Meadowcroft, 2011).
Pacala and Socolow (2004) provide an insight into how a technological solution for
climate change could be realised, by separating the solution across seven
manageable wedges of alternative technologies which would be needed in order to
stabilise atmospheric CO2 by 2050, demonstrating the scale and complexity of the
technological challenge. In addition to sheer technological scale, as Grubb (2005)
Examining discourses on Carbon Capture and Storage
highlights, the scaling up of existing technologies indicated by Pacala and Socolow
(2004) will present us with new social and environmental problems. Thus,
technology’s potential to provide a solution must be considered on an individual
basis (Sarewitz and Nelson, 2008).
Although the critical discussion on ‘technological fixes’ for climate change has mostly
circled the technocratic claim of a ‘climate-technology’ revolution (Barratt, 2009) in
the context of emerging geoengineering schemes (Brewer, 2007; Moriaty and
Honnery, 2011; Vaughan and Lenton, 2011), it has also been directed towards other
technological solutions, of which CCS is one. This is a claim that this paper will
consider more thoroughly.
3.2.1 Defining the actors
Another important, related factor is the degree to which different actors are involved
in decisions on climate change mitigation; these can be summarised as the
technocratic, ‘let experts decide’ view or democratic perspectives characteristic of
inclusive governance patterns (Conca, 2005; Fischer, 2003; Held and McGrew,
2002; Irwin and Michael, 2003). Such views depend on fundamental assumptions
that different stakeholders have divergent opinions, and frame issues in different
ways. Evans and Plow (2007) outline how defining various groups as ‘expert’ and
‘non-expert’ or ‘hegemonic’ and ‘alternative’, may be simplistic (Evans and Plow,
Each group, however they are defined, has particular ways of
communicating; for instance science with its complexities and uncertainties, politics,
presenting a solvable problem that requires political legitimacy, and media,
presenting a newsworthy and urgent story (Allan, 2002; Rowe et al., 2000; Weingart
et al., 2000). This creates different discourses in each sector and highlights
difficulties of communication.
3.2.2 Models of engagement
The role of public involvement has been hotly contested. Maranta et al. (2003)
outline how scientists’ perceptions of the so called ‘imagined lay person’ as illinformed and curious to learn, perpetuates the ‘expert-lay divide’. This is a ‘deficit
model’ of communication. The public, however, is not an inert body: “to impose a
Examining discourses on Carbon Capture and Storage
model of communication that does not keep barriers to behaviour and social change
in mind is unlikely to be effective or sufficient” (Moser and Dilling, 2007:11). Such a
model of communication is similar to Weingart et al.’s (2002) ‘rational-instrumental’
model of risk communication whereby a technocratic view, as discussed above,
leads to a vision that education of ‘non-experts’ is all that is necessary (Hammond
and Shackley, 2010). Evans and Durant (1995) illustrate how, in reality, those who
are more scientifically or technically aware tend also to be more critical of the
information they are given. It is believed that wider “public engagement is needed in
order to test and contest the framing of the issues that experts are asked to resolve.
Without such critical supervision, experts have often found themselves offering
irrelevant advice on wrong or misguided questions” (Jasanoff, 2003:397-8),
particularly in the context of a ‘macro-ethics of responsibility’ (Stydom, 2002:4)
brought about through increased focus on risk (Giddens, 1991).
The recognition that such models of public engagement are not sufficient has
highlighted the need for processes which recognise that citizens have their own way
of interpreting technical information, and that their ‘lay’ knowledge should not be
dismissed (Irwin, 1995; Irwin and Michael, 2003; Wynne, 1996). The development of
a ‘participatory expertise’ (Fisher, 1993) recognises that values are as important as
the provision of ‘facts’ in defining the way people feel about technical debates.
Fischer’s (2004) four levels of discourse model suggests that citizens approach
decisions based on the realities of the social world and that technical experts should
take this into account and bring it into policy decisions in this area. This model will be
explained for the purpose of this study in a later section.
Considering such viewpoints is paramount in policy discussions on energy
technologies, partly because of the history of their societal acceptance (Beierle and
Cayford, 2002; Wustenhagen et al., 2007; Vicklund, 2000). Initial application of
deficit styles of communication has led to a history of suspicion (Wustenhagen et al.,
2007). This is illustrated in the context of the Talking Energy (BERR, 2007) event on
nuclear power where a representative sample of UK population expressed reserve
about the role of nuclear in the future energy mix. The paper states that
“...contributions have provided the Government with a vital insight into the view of the
people of the UK. The Government will set out their final decision later this year”
(2007:5). Despite the reservations the decision to invest further in nuclear power was
Examining discourses on Carbon Capture and Storage
made, raising questions over the value of such consultation processes. The
motivations for engagement are therefore unclear, as “inviting citizens to engage
without giving them substantive influence or valuing their input ultimately diminishes
rather than restores trust in inviting institutions and people’s feelings of efficacy”
(Hoppner, 2009:10).
3.2.3 The value of engagement
For some, increased focus on public participation is confusing traditional divisions
between ‘expert’ and ‘non-expert’. Evans and Plow (2007) illustrate how the role of
the ‘expert’ is becoming one of communication and management rather than
decision-making. The ‘non-expert’ is also becoming less distinct; as engagement and
involvement increase they become less characteristic of the ‘public’ body they are
supposed to represent. This simultaneously downgrades the importance of both
technical and ‘lay’ knowledge to reach an indefinable middle ground (Irwin and
Michael, 2003); the ‘problem of extension’ (Collins and Evans, 2002). At the core of
such models is the assumption that agreement over a technology is the right thing,
facilitated by the type of survey methods used in such situations (Malone et al.,
2010). Despite this, some have questioned whether preoccupation with public
involvement impedes good technical decisions (Löfstedt, 2005). Stilgoe et al. (2006)
outlines how a stronger approach would be to engage more experts. The overall
message is that communication and engagement should be undertaken on a caseby-case basis (Collins and Evans, 2002; Löfstedt, 2005). Nonetheless, it is the
selfsame proliferation of different framings, or discourses, underlying such issues,
within both the ‘expert’ and ‘public’ realms that makes reaching decisions and
focusing on solutions so difficult (Fischer and Black, 1995).
Many of the issues raised above are encapsulated in the case of CCS. CCS is a
highly technical issue; both technical and social learning are, nonetheless, required
(Reiner, 2011). The latter is recognised to be harder than the former. However, since
the publication of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) CCS
report in 2005 there has been increasing attention in this area. In 2011 and 2012
respectively the Journals Global Environmental Change and Energy & Environment
Examining discourses on Carbon Capture and Storage
devoted special issues to the subject, highlighting its topicality and providing a basis
for further research in this area.
3.3.1 Stakeholder opinion
Markusson et al. (2011) defines the audience for engagement on CCS to be made
up of local residents, governments, media, non-governmental organisations (NGOs)
and the professional CCS community. Expert and stakeholder opinion of CCS has
been widely studied; the ACCSEPT project used a multi-country sample, presenting
a large-scale survey to various technical and non-technical stakeholders (Shackley
et al., 2007), indicating small differences in national opinion. Similarly Johnsson et al.
(2008) undertook a comparison between the USA, Japan and Europe, finding
minimal variation. However, in undertaking a more detailed qualitative study
comparing Norway and Sweden’s media coverage of corporate involvement in CCS,
Buhr and Hansson (2011) found widely divergent opinions, suggesting that a more
in-depth comparative study might reveal bigger national differences.
Within the UK the DECC stakeholder consultation, mainly involving businesses, but
including some NGO respondents (7.6%), did not challenge the role for CCS in the
future of power generation (DECC, 2009b). This acceptance of the technology
amongst stakeholders is reflected in several studies (deConinck and Bäckstrand,
2011; Stephens et al., 2011) with minor variations in the severity of need for CCS
between industry and NGOs (Johnsson et al., 2009).
Despite overall acceptance, these studies identify many potential barriers to
deployment of the technology. Cost is thought to be the greatest obstacle (IEA,
2009). A general lack of international coordination and cooperation (deConinck et al.,
2009) and concerns over the wider policy and regulatory context have been
expressed (IRGC, 2008, 2009), particularly on its interactions with other European
instruments such as the EU ETS (von Stechlow et al., 2011) or international
development through the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) (ACCAT, 2009;
Román, 2011). Concerns over possible fossil fuel ‘lock in’ as a result of CCS
(Kirchsteiger, 2008; Markusson, 2012) are generally raised by NGOs; thought to be
avoided in the future through development of bio-energy CCS (Vergraght et al.,
2011). Despite the barriers, the CCS community is optimistic about its deployment
(Hansson and Bryngelsson, 2009). The level of positivity is considered potentially
Examining discourses on Carbon Capture and Storage
dangerous to industry and political integrity as there may be repercussions if high
expectations are not met (Bryngelsson and Hansson, 2009).
Reiner (2008) suggests that general acceptance of CCS by environmental NGOs
has led to assumptions that public reception would be similar; however negative
reaction to CCS in the US, for instance has been led by grassroots organisations,
suggesting a need to engage more widely (Littlecott, 2012). Gough (2007) found
public opinion was considered fourth on a list of potential barriers and as such there
is general belief that public acceptance of the technology would not be a problem if
uncertainties surrounding the technology were dealt with (Gough and Shackley,
3.3.2 Public opinion
There is a perceived ‘mismatch’ between the CCS community (Markusson et al.,
2011) and the wider public (Stephens, 2006; Stephens et al., 2011), which in several
national contexts, has been found to have a low awareness and understanding of the
technology (Curry et al., 2004; Fischedick et al., 2009; Gough et al. 2002, Ha-Duong
et al., 2009; Huijts, 2003; Huijts et al., 2007; Miller et al., 2007; Johnsson et al.,
2009). Compounding this, there are few communication efforts taking place (Reiner,
2008), despite acknowledgement that they would need to be scaled up if CCS were
to become more widespread (vanAlpen et al., 2007).
In general, there is no certainty as to whether the wider public would approve of the
deployment of CCS (Reiner, 2008). Shackley et al. (2004), utilising a small series of
citizen panels, found that although people initially tended to have no opinion or be
generally sceptical of CCS, they became more positive once more information was
provided. A similar pattern is evident in Morgan’s (2012) study undertaken in Scottish
schools. Van Alphen et al.’s (2007) study, in the Netherlands, suggests, however,
that there is real potential for negative attitudes to emerge if action is not taken to
inform people properly. In the context of previous discussions, these studies would
seem to follow a ‘deficit’ correlation between education and acceptance; thus a
better understanding of what affects people’s decisions on CCS is needed.
Examining discourses on Carbon Capture and Storage
3.3.3 This study
Bäckstrand et al. (2011) offers potential extensions to research undertaken in this
area; comparative studies, broader methodological scope and examination of
different actor groups. This study attempts to address the latter two, extending the
examination of studies on CCS into the wider realm, through looking at both ‘official’
and ‘public’ arenas, and in doing this broadening the scope of methodologies.
It is not yet clear to what extent real engagement with the general public on CCS is
necessary; indeed there is every chance that CCS “will be viewed in much the same
manner as any number of industrial processes that are seen as technical, opaque
and largely uninteresting to the general public” (Reiner, 2008:31), but past
experience with other technologies, such as nuclear energy or genetically modified
organisms, suggests that it is better to assume more than less (Palmgren et al.,
2004). Ultimately, as Stephens et al. state, “an investigation of the relationship
between and a comparative analysis of the discourse within the CCS community and
the general public would be valuable and could reveal insights relevant to the
advancement of various different types of technologies with high perceived risks that
are susceptible to public opposition” (2011:389). It is in this context that this study
provides an elaboration.
Examining discourses on Carbon Capture and Storage
The conceptual framework for this study extends Shackley and Dütschke’s (2012)
use of Fischer’s (2004) four-level discourse model in the context of CCS (see Figure
2, next page). Fischer’s model questions the rationality by which scientists come to
decisions in examining the assumed ‘irrationalities’ that influence citizens’ opinion. In
doing this, the model combines the social construction of technology, more inclusive
methods of public engagement and factors affecting public opinions on CCS. The
model is extended by:
 including the wider ‘realms’ in which the research of this study takes
place; namely ‘official’ and ‘public’,
 and, introducing links between them.
Examining discourses on Carbon Capture and Storage
Fossil fuel
Ideological: Worldview
Systems: Social reasoning
‘Official’ arena
Situation: Location
taking into
‘Public’ arena
Warrant: Importance
Figure 2: Conceptual model for this study (adapted from Fischer (2004) and Shackley and Dütschke (2012))
Examining discourses on Carbon Capture and Storage
The overall approach of this study is one of discourse analysis. Discourse analysis is
a way of examining interaction of texts with wider social practices and context (Hope,
2010; Myerson and Rydin 1996; Sharp and Richardson, 2001) and is increasingly
employed in a policy setting (Backstrand and Lovbrand, 2006). It is concerned with;
intertextuality, storylines, mental-models, interaction, argument, ideology and power
(Hewitt, 2009; Hajer, 1995).
Few studies utilising discourse analysis describe the methods employed (Alba-Juez,
2009; Hewitt, 2009), and undertaking it is described as “something like bike
riding...which is not easy to render or describe in an explicit manner” (Hoggart et al.,
1992:165). Despite this, rather unhelpful statement Saint (2008) highlights that
discourse analysis is in some ways what we do every day. Hajer (2006) suggests
that to undertake a full discourse analysis one should utilise the whole swathe of
qualitative analysis methods; desk research, document analysis, interviews and
drawing links between them. This study chooses to use a mixed method of
document analysis complemented by elite interviews to examine the ‘official’ arena
coupled with focus groups to investigate the ‘public’. Linking the two allows
consideration of “discourse coalitions that develop and sustain a particular
discourse” (Hajer, 1995:13) amongst the ‘official’ actors, as well as making power
relations explicit.
The research is divided into two parts:
1) The ‘official’ data which includes industry, government, NGOs, and, although
not an official source as such, print newspapers. It asks: What are the
dominant framings of CCS? How it is presented as a solution for climate
2) The ‘public’ data, asking: what shapes public opinion on CCS? How does the
public engage with ‘official’ views of CCS? What implications does this have
for the uptake of the technology?
Research was undertaken in June and July 2012. The use of qualitative is justified
through the recognition that they provide a better representation of the dynamic,
context-dependent and complex nature of the social world (Cloke et al., 2004; Limb
Examining discourses on Carbon Capture and Storage
and Dywer, 2001), correlating with the aims of discourse analysis. Both the nature of
discourse analysis and the limits of public knowledge on CCS mean that a more
engaging and communicative approach, in this case focus groups, is necessary
(Gough et al., 2004). The emphasis in focus groups is to gain “insight into the social,
cultural, political, economic and personal dimensions of an issue – its discourse”
(Bedford and Burgess, 2001: 121).
In addition to adopting a qualitative research design, the need to extend research
beyond the ‘official’ domain is justified. Shackley et al. (2005) asked ‘official’
stakeholders how they thought the public would perceive CCS rather than asking
them themselves. Likewise, van Alphen et al. (2007) examined stakeholder opinion
and used media as a proxy for public opinion. To make such assumptions risks
justifying the accusation of seeing the public as consumers rather than citizens
(Michael and Irwin, 2003). Assuming that the public are suppressed and powerless
in the examination of discourse (Saint, 2008) is also damaging and thus it is
necessary to examine both groups to discover complexities and nuances (Stephens
et al., 2004).
4.3.1 Sample
A limitation of discourse analysis is that it can incorporate an almost endless range
of material (Saint, 2008), it is therefore important to define the terms employed. In
this case a series of publications and texts from events were examined using a
temporal sample frame of six years; from 2007 to present. These dates were chosen
as they represented the time from which the first CCS competition was introduced to
2012 when the second competition was announced. This is taken as the time that
political interest has raised the profile of the technology.
The organisations that these were taken from and the nature of the documents are
summarised in Table 1 (for a full list of documents, see Appendix 3). To complement
this it was planned to undertake a series of interviews with ‘elites’ representing
industry, NGOs and government, in recognition that the written and spoken word do
not offer the same insight (vanAlphen et al., 2007). These were targeted through
‘gatekeepers’. However, the lack of response, as expected when undertaking ‘elite’
Examining discourses on Carbon Capture and Storage
interviews (McDowell, 1998; Shoenberger, 1991) meant that, where given, written
responses were incorporated into wider document analysis. Although a clear
limitation, the large database of documentary evidence could make up for this.
Although the media is not an ‘official’ source, studies have found that it has a
significant role in defining how people form opinions on technologies like CCS
(vanAlphen et al., 2007), and therefore it was included in this group.
Source of
DECC website;
British Petroleum
(BP) Website;
World Wildlife
Fund (WWF),
and Friends of
the Earth
Number of
Nature of
All documents
published on
DECC website
regarding CCS
from 2007 to 16th
August 2012
All press
releases and
regarding CCS
from 2007 to 16th
August 2012
All press
statements and
published on
the websites of
the above
from 2007 to
16th August
All documents
including the
words ‘carbon
capture’ in the
headline from 1st
January 2007 to
16th August
2012, duplicates
and letters to
editor removed
with DECC
BP Energy
Outlook 2030 for
Lexis Nexis
Database: all
UK National
with Carbon
Capture and
Table 1: Summary of documents analysed
Examining discourses on Carbon Capture and Storage
4.3.2 Data gathering and analysis
Data from documents was gathered in an analysis sheet based on discussions
surrounding environmental discourses in Drysek (2005), Hajer (1995) and Sharp and
Richardson (2001) (for the original sheet see Appendix 4).
Analysis was consistent with wider discourse analysis, in that it was qualitative in
style; recognising that traditional content analysis approaches are primarily
concerned with frequency rather than agency (Richardson, 2007), and so ignore
context (Lindlof, 1995). This meant that to avoid analytical prescription the
development of codes was left open (Crang, 2001). Although an overall qualitative
approach to analysis was adopted it is important to note that this still considers with
the repetitiveness of concepts, and thus reference will be made to frequency of
themes in subsequent discussions.
4.4.1 Sample
Some small-scale focus group based studies on general public engagement and
interpretation of CCS have been undertaken (Bradbury et al., 2009; Gough et al,
2002; Reiner, 2008). In the spirit of a more inclusive approach to decision-making,
participants were recruited following a ‘snowballing’ pattern, whereby individuals and
encouraged to invite acquaintances to participate (Bedford and Burgess, 2001), this
resulted in a total of 36 participants of backgrounds varying in terms of employment
and nationality. Six 90 minute groups were undertaken, each with six participants.
The geographical spread was limited to two locations – London and Leeds, and
participants were aged between 22 and 65 (see Appendix 5 for data on focus
groups), thus it is clear that this is not a representative sample of the UK population.
The case study nature of focus group research is recognised; there is no aim to be
statistically representative and it is the ‘depth’ and ‘richness’ of the method that make
it valuable (Valentine, 2001).
4.4.2 Data gathering and analysis
Focus groups were semi-structured and open-ended. Following Krueger’s (1998)
questioning route a series of questions and activities were outlined, and the basic
Examining discourses on Carbon Capture and Storage
structure remained the same for each group (see Table 2 and Appendix 6 for actual
outline). As there is little public knowledge about CCS, it was important to set
discussions in a wider context. Although questions were pre-set follow up routes
were left open ended. In addition, care was taken when constructing questions as it
is acknowledged that “when overall knowledge is lacking, question wording can be
more likely to skew results” (Malone et al., 2010:421). Questions were piloted prior to
undertaking the groups which helped to identify overlaps and contradictions,
particularly concerning the ordering of questions, as in contexts where information is
being provided it is important to gain rapport and trust with the participants (Earl and
Cvetkovich,1999). The role of the moderator was essential as, characteristic of semistructured focus groups, participants were given scope to steer the conversation
(Silverman, 2006), but required some guidance to ensure that the topics were
Question Type
(after Krueger,
Aim (after Krueger,
Aim of specific
Introduce each other
and get acquainted
Introduce self and
say where get info
on way climate
change is being
Make people feel
Moves onto key
Climate change
Introduces a critical
look at climate
change solutions
CCS information
Introduces CCS
Involvement in
climate change
policy decisions
Assesses level of
engagement in
policy, and barriers
to involvement
Positives and
negatives of CCS
Encourages critical
thinking on the
technology and
assesses level of
Moves smoothly into
key questions
Obtains insight on
areas of central
Examining discourses on Carbon Capture and Storage
Statements on
CCS matching
Brings discussion to
a close
Assesses importance
of language in
presenting info
Looks at relationship
between language
and organisations
Looking at list of
Assessing relative
trust in organisations
and what effects that
Can technology
solve climate
Table 2: Overview of focus group questions (after Krueger, 1998)
Each focus group was transcribed verbatim (for an extract see Appendix 7, full
transcripts available on request), with pseudonyms allocated to each participant to
ensure confidentiality. This transcription allowed for line-to-line coding, and therefore
the subsequent levels of coding were open to revision and amendments to properly
represent the data (Jackson, 2001). As texts become the body of analysis in
discourse analysis (Alba-Juez, 2009) it follows that the same process be applied to
both parts of the analysis. The coded data was drawn together in a ‘discursive’ for
each group (Bedford and Burgess, 2001; Jackson, 2001; Kneale, 2001), then
extended across groups which allowed cross-referencing and grouping of codes
(Crang, 2001).
The overall practice of discourse analysis involves reflexivity on the part of the
researcher (Myerson and Rydin, 1998; Sharp and Richardson, 2001). As focus
groups provide rich data both in terms of content and context it is important not to
overlook one in favour of the other; especially as the material is fragmented through
transcribing and coding (Crang, 2001). The dynamic of the groups was, therefore,
considered in the transcription, coding and analysis.
Examining discourses on Carbon Capture and Storage
The first part of this study was concerned with examining dominant framings of CCS
within ‘official’ circles and how CCS is presented as a particular solution for climate
5.1.1 Themes
Figure 3 (see next page) summarises the distribution of themes for each group of
actors. For the NGOs the divergence of documents meant that the assignment of
codes was hard thus they are not graphically presented.
Common themes between all groups were those of CCS as ‘part of a solution’, a
‘leadership’ opportunity and a focus on ‘uncertainties’, although these were framed in
different ways. Government publications shift from a wider focus on the UK’s
leadership on CCS to focus on internal business competition aimed at the creation of
a CCS industry. Following the creation of DECC in 2008 a much more detailed
approach seems to have been adopted which considers weaknesses and
opportunities for collaboration. The most recent publications, coinciding with the relaunch of the CCS Competition, adopt a positive tone, based in innovation and the
potential that CCS has to play in future climate change policy. Such patterns of
optimism are similar to those identified by Vergraght et al. (2011) in their examination
of the route to CCS commercialisation in the context of technological innovation
development. Temporal patterns were harder to identify in the industry publications,
apart from recognition that themes were more diverse prior to 2010. Whether this is
coincidence, a transfer of interest from industry to political circles, or a result of wider
contextual factors within BP’s remit, like the Gulf of Mexico oil spill, is not possible to
Examining discourses on Carbon Capture and Storage
Main themes in government publications on
CCS over time period
Part of a solution
Main themes in industry publications on CCS
over time period
US leadership
Part of a solution
Business opportunities
Cautious optimism
Main themes in newspaper articles on CCS over
time period
Gov competence
Unproven technology
Part of a solution
Figure 3: Main themes identified in stakeholder documents on CCS 2007-2012
Examining discourses on Carbon Capture and Storage
The relationship that CCS has with climate change differs between stakeholders.
The government’s focus is one of positive vision and leadership on addressing the
climate change issue. This is however rather measured in the context of the need to
characteristic of ‘ecological modernisation’ in wider environmental policy (Bäckstrand
and Lovbrand, 2006). Although, unsurprisingly the industry publications indicated
similar patterns of ecological modernisation, the focus was less clearly linked with
climate change; rather, there was a focus on the presence of energy on the political
agenda and a rise in customer demand and business sense in creating alternative
energies and low-carbon technologies. The stress on the importance of ‘doing
business’ to determine the best ways to reduce cost, produce better understandings
of risk and provide a basis for public engagement, is an even better demonstration of
a weak ecological modernisation (Mol and Sonnenfeld, 2000). Ioan et al. (2009) had
similar findings in their study of ExxonMobil’s discourse on climate change.
Government emphasis on ‘creating’ an industry for CCS as part of the UK’s ‘lowcarbon future’ (DECC, 2012, pers.comm.,9 July) and a focus on the importance of
R&D suggest support for this industry based exploration of CCS.
NGO publications use climate change as the ultimate framing factor of CCS.
Although Greenpeace was initially strongly against the technology, based on their
rejection of the building of new coal fired power stations, their outlook became more
measured over the time period. Therefore most national NGOs believe that CCS
should be pursued in light of the need for an immediate alternative to fossil fuels and
nuclear (Johnsson et al., 2009). Media coverage of CCS changes over the time
period examined; initially set in the context of climate change and its threat to the
planet, it shifts towards the end of the period to a focus on energy security. This
change could be in part a result of wider contextual factors such as the publication of
the IPCC Fourth Assessment Report in 2007 which brought the effects of climate
change under media scrutiny (Livingston, 2008), the recession, a more measured
approach to climate change and the need to bring mitigation efforts in touch with
everyday concerns, as well as a better knowledge of the linkages between carbon
emissions and climate change.
Examining discourses on Carbon Capture and Storage
The critical focus of the media is, interestingly, not angled at the technology itself,
rather at government incompetence and indecision in the face of a shift from the
science to the politics of CCS and indeed climate change (Giddens, 2009). The only
paper to tell a coherent story across the whole time period was the Guardian (see
Figure 4). As readership estimates for the Guardian for 2011-2012 were 2.1% of the
UK population (NRS, 2012) in the face of focus group responses (see below) this
appears to offer a limitation of the sample in this study.
Articles on CCS by newspaper 2007 to 2012
Number of Articles
Figure 4: Coverage of articles on CCS in UK National newspapers 2007-2012
5.1.2 Relationships
Both government and industry focus on the creation and promotion of
intergovernmental dialogues and collaboration between industry, government, and
academia. Government frames this as central to the success of the emerging CCS
industry. Making funds available for R&D and innovation projects legitimises the
need for such collaborations. BP makes no mention of wider public engagement,
however the CCSA state that it is very important, both in terms of acceptance for
particular projects and for “convincing the public that CCS is an important climate
change mitigation technology – will ensure that the public understands and
embraces the need for CCS, creating a positive environment for the development of
Examining discourses on Carbon Capture and Storage
the industry” (CCSA, 2012, pers.comm.13 July). The language here implies a deficit
interpretation of people’s understanding of the technology (Hammond and Shackley,
2010) and this might add to difficulties of wider public engagement.
The media and NGOs are concerned with the relationships of others. Although
NGOs are critical of the relationship between government and industry, particularly
regarding new coal fired power stations, this is overshadowed by general concern
over uncertainties of the technology itself. Bringing former US President Bush and
his promotion of CCS and ‘clean coal’ into the picture, Greenpeace provide
ammunition for sceptics (Greenpeace, 2008). Gough et al. (2002) found that Bush’s
relationship with CCS became a fundamental reason to distrust the technology
amongst the public. The media, in line with typical journalistic norms of blame and
debate (Boykoff and Boykoff, 2004, 2007; Dunwoody, 1993) is more focused on
presenting government incompetence and failures than technical or environmental
concerns. Thus, the presentation of particular ‘events’ such as the cancellation of the
Longannet CCS, hours after DECC confirmed it was going ahead, encourages the
destruction of public trust (Slovic, 1999) in government competence. There are a
number of contextual factors that could contribute, such as change of government. In
addition, taking newspaper articles out of the wider context through focusing on CCS
ignores the wider picture of media coverage. For instance, a quick comparative
search revealed four times as many articles containing ‘BP’ and ‘oil spill’ in the
headline over the same time period, which would undoubtedly have a role in
affecting the image of industry out of the context of CCS.
5.1.3 Language
The use of language is important, both within the context of discourse analysis and
for its interpretation by the public (see below). The fact that government documents
present CCS with a measured tone, focusing on ‘opportunity’ rather than ‘solution’ or
‘fix’, is not surprising as the government is proposing a wide portfolio of ways to
combat climate change. Likewise, industry’s positive tone is not surprising in the
context of their technological vision. However, their tendency to temper any
consideration of alternative, ‘clean’ and ‘green’ energies with the continued need for
fossil fuels and the stress on a ‘cautious optimism’ could give the impression of
Examining discourses on Carbon Capture and Storage
protecting business interests or ‘greenwash’ (Lyon and Maxwell, 2011) rather than
real commitment, particularly in the eyes of the public or sceptical NGOs.
The only document to present CCS in a wholly negative light was ‘False Hope’
(Greenpeace, 2008) which uses dramatic, campaigning language such as the
‘climate crisis’ and the ‘disposal’ of CO2, a term generally associated with nuclear
waste, the use of which has been found to have implications for the acceptance of
CCS in the US (Palmgren et al, 2004; Reiner and Nuttall, 2009). This is
accompanied by powerful imagery found to be important in the presentation of risk
related issues (Ferreira et al., 2001); framing discussions on the potential dangers of
CCS and coal by pictures of power stations, oil spills, pipelines and clouds of
pollution. Interestingly, the sensationalist language associated with the media was
not present in the newspaper sample. As Dowd et al. (2012) found in their study of
international media coverage on CCS the majority of articles were positive or
qualified in tone, preferring to present CCS as a technical, financial or political topic.
This is similar to many other NGO documents, which make use of technical analysis,
statistics, and in WWF’s case, commissioned work from the Scottish CCS (SCCS)
research group, adding legitimacy to their arguments.
5.1.4 CCS as a solution
The proposed suite of ‘exciting’ technologies, of which CCS is one, championed by
both the government and industry are presented as both making business sense and
contributing to climate change mitigation. While this is a technocratic view, it is
recognised within both circles that their development does depend on the ingenuity
of people through R&D and as creators of technology (Uekoetter, 2004). Within the
media the findings are similar to those of vanAlphen (2007), where considerations of
the weaknesses of the technology did not overshadow claims to CCS being a part of
the solution for climate change. It seems that, although NGOs have previously
expressed strong opinions on CCS’s weaknesses, and have reservations about its
role in the wider climate change context, they express a similar ‘cautious optimism’.
In the context of suppositions on traditional divisions between industry and NGOs
associated more generally with nuclear power or fossil fuels, for instance illustrated
in the Greenpeace-Shell conflict surrounding the dumping of the Brent-Spar oil
Examining discourses on Carbon Capture and Storage
platform (Grove-White, 1997), such viewpoints introduce complexities which might
not be clear at first sight.
5.2 ‘PUBLIC’
This part of the analysis was concerned with what shapes public opinion on, and
engagement with, CCS, and what implications this has for the uptake of the
5.2.1 Dynamics of Focus Groups
The dynamics within each group differed considerably. Bedford and Burgess (2001)
state that in order to minimise differences caused by individual personalities and
backgrounds researchers should aim for homogeneity in participants’ background
within groups by undertaking screening questionnaires. This was difficult to arrange
for technical reasons and a careful moderating style had to be adopted to minimise
differences. Different personalities were important as they represent different levels
of expertise outlined by Evans and Plow (2007), all of which are important within a
5.2.2 Climate change solutions
Participants identified a full range of options, ranging from technical, such as
geoengineering and renewable energy, to individual behavioural change, financial
instruments, and radical or wider structural measures:
“ also comes down to economics and the way people spend their money, and the
way businesses are run and the way people use everything...something else has to
change too” (19C:1589-1593)
There was an emphasis on alternatives to the current state of affairs, summed up as
recognition that today’s structures are not conducive to addressing the climate
change problem.
Participants’ overall preference was for behavioural change, which they understood
or where the benefit was clear. These behavioural changes were consistently
identified as the least likely to succeed as a result of their inability to have a
cumulative impact (FG1:17A) or through the difficulty of getting people on board:
Examining discourses on Carbon Capture and Storage
“I put the one that was most likely to have a successful outcome if the public could be
persuaded would be reducing the use of fossil fuels and the...carbon footprint, but I
think it’s probably the least likely to be I put the least likely to succeed
as reducing car and plane travel because I just don’t think the public will be
convinced” (23E:210-217).
This could be considered recognition of the ‘value-action gap’ (Blake, 1999), which,
through lack of individual actions raises the importance of technological solutions like
CCS. Role of technology
Some individuals immediately drew a link between the word ‘solution’ and
technology suggesting that the role of technology in making our lives easier is deeply
engrained. The function of technology in providing a solution for climate change was
actively debated; there was high preference for, and belief in, renewable energy
technologies as a technological solution. However the majority of participants did not
believe that technological solutions could happen without coincident behavioural
It seems that, as Gough and Shackley (2006) found in their interview based study,
there is an ethical dimension surrounding dislike of a purely technical solution; in a
general obligation that people feel towards the environment. This came across as
the dislike of “using technological fixes to solve the problems that are pretty much
man-made” (23D:2556-2557) and that “technological change actually illustrates the
huge arrogance of...our anthropocentric point of view” (23A:2564-2568) which might
fix the current problem by creating a new one. This illustrates the social and
philosophical context of technology, at the point where human culture and human
nature overlap (Grosz, 2005), bringing questions of morality into the debate
(Torgerson, 2001). Despite general scepticism of technological geoengineering
schemes, labelling them “far-fetched” (19A:67) and “slightly mad” (17F:208), there
was still an element of technological optimism (e.g. FG5:23F, FG4:20A). A similar
level of technological optimism was apparent in focus groups undertaken by
Shackley et al. (2004), whereby participants offered suggestions for the future. This
apparent contradiction between faith in current proposals and future possibilities
could be characteristic of the ‘wait and see’ mentality attributed to those who believe
Examining discourses on Carbon Capture and Storage
in market forces in the shaping of climate change solutions (Clapp and Dauvergne,
5.2.3 Knowledge and perception of CCS
Some groups included CCS in their list of solutions, a measure of the general level of
awareness. As the literature suggests (Ha-Duong et al., 2009; Huijts, 2003), a
minority had any detailed knowledge, and several admitted to having heard of it but
to not knowing any detail, confirming that CCS “lacks an iconography and a position
within mainstream pop culture” (Reiner and Nuttall, 2009:14). Costs and Benefits
Several studies have demonstrated that in the absence of local objection, and in the
eyes of wider public, opinions on CCS tend to be shaped by framing and ideological
viewpoints, such as relationship with climate change (Gough et al., 2002; Nisbet,
2010; Reiner et al., 2008; Shackley et al., 2004), a general dislike of coal as an
energy source (Curry et al., 2005; Poortinga et al., 2006; Shackley et al., 2005) or a
scepticism towards assumed ‘miracle technologies’ (Huijts et al, 2007; Johnsson et
al, 2010; Malone et al, 2010; Shackley et al, 2009). This was present in this study
and also extended into the philosophical notion of CCS as a “stop-gap” (19A:465466). This logic, which for some makes it a potentially good short-term solution
(FG1:17F, FG2:18F), working with what we already have, both in terms of human
behaviour and dependency on fossil fuels, is also seen to distract from wider
motivations for behavioural change.
Participants did, to some extent, identify the presence of technological risk to both
humans and the natural world as a potential disadvantage of the technology:
“I would be concerned that it would come out again” (17A:398)
“ does seem to me that there could be repercussions for things that are not
necessary human things...sort of ecological things” (19C:508-510).
Some individuals were considerably more concerned than others. This did not seem
to be linked to expertise, rather a measure of a more critical engagement (Evans and
Plow, 2007). In all groups, participants initiated unprompted discussions on its
possible risks. This could be seen as a part of living in a ‘risk society’, in which the
Examining discourses on Carbon Capture and Storage
negative consequences are stronger and more publicised than positives (Beck,
1992), more than any real concern for the technology.
Reiner and Nuttall (2009) suggest that CCS is seen as ordinary because of the
familiarity with CO2 itself, however these focus groups suggested underlying concern
for potential local risks is a lack of understanding of the properties of CO2. Some
participants debated the properties of the gas and its potential to cause harm
(FG5:873-899) in the context of Not In My Back Yard (NIMBY) rejections, similar to
those outlined by deConinck and Huijts, (2004). The fact that CO 2 storage is to be
offshore in the UK was not taken into consideration. It is believed that this will make
it less of a concern to the general public (Littlecott, 2012) and some participants
acknowledged that:
“I don’t think it would be a real danger to people living there, I can’t imagine that, so,
it’s more of an environmental question, it’s not really like, a risk question for me”
The lack of technical knowledge therefore has implications for the interpretation of
risk information, and subsequently the role and form of communication that people
need. Links with other technologies
The assumed harmful nature of CO2 may have been brought about by a tendency to
use more familiar technologies, as proxies for CCS. Linkages with nuclear power,
shale gas, and landfill were commonplace. The “out of sight, out of mind” mentality
(20F:536) coupled with the possibility of future uncertainties is associated with
nuclear power, and the lack of information on CCS could be seen as a deliberate act
to prevent ‘ripples’ of negative public opinion spreading to CCS (Pidgeon et al.,
2003). This was acknowledged; “If I was the CCS Institute I would almost try and
avoid nuclear energy and CCS ever coming up in the same conversation,
because...for...not...correct reasons it’s almost like tarnished...” (17F:907-909). The
sense behind this belief was highlighted by one participant (19E) who did not feel the
same concern towards CCS as she did towards fracking, as there is less information
available to make a decision, particularly in the media. However, she believed that
having more information on CCS might make her “slightly worried about what was
Examining discourses on Carbon Capture and Storage
going on underground...” (19E:604-605). Palmgren et al. (2004) found a similar
increase in dislike for the technology with more information. Shackley et al. (2007)
however found a gradual increase in acceptance of the technology as more
information was provided, suggesting that context plays a part, or that, following
initial scepticism, opinions change. Disconnect
The general lack of awareness and understanding of CCS illustrates the presence of
a ‘mismatch’ between the so called CCS community and the general public,
(Stephens et al., 2011). This was expressed as concern for the technical nature of
the project:
“I just, I guess it might be because I don’t really understand but I don’t know how
you’d do it...” (17B:399-400)
As well as the political will behind it as a viable climate change solution:
“it just seems like a concept at the moment, kind of like, someone’s just come up with
the idea of the top of their head...” (17C:322-323).
The fact that it has serious political and financial backing, evident in the ‘official’
section, was not clear to these participants when making a judgement on the
technology. One expressed a desire for media debate before being able to make a
judgement (FG3:19B). This highlights both the importance of the media in providing
information to the general public on relatively unknown topics (Dowd et al., 2012),
and also potential limitations with the lack of official engagement with the general
public on CCS.
The disconnect witnessed here could be related to a general lack of faith in
organisations desire to deal with climate change. The perception that government
departments like DECC are “talking the talk but they are not really walking the
walk...” (18F:412-413) or “certainly not doing what they’re supposed to do...”
(18E:884) was widely expressed throughout groups. Thus the realisation that CCS
was being seriously considered was expressed positively:
“if the government were suddenly to actually say they were doing this then that would
suddenly mean they were actually doing something as opposed to, saying in the next
Examining discourses on Carbon Capture and Storage
50 years we’re going to do something, which at least would show willing...” (19C:661614).
Such perception of government incompetence on climate change action is well
documented (Suff, 2011), and suggests that, for many, the urgency of seeing action
on climate change is greater than potential risks associated with the technology,
especially when it is detached from a particular locality.
5.2.4 Perceptions of Actors Organisations and public perceptions
Several studies identify the public perception of actors within the CCS community as
a central part of the acceptance of technologies (Shackley et al., 2007). These
perceptions, namely trust (Terwel et al., 2009b; Sjoberg, 1999; Vicklund, 2000),
become more important when people have less technical knowledge (Poortinga and
Pidgeon, 2003). Such a position was recognised by participants, who stated, “I
suppose if you know less about it then trust in whose saying it becomes more
important...doesn’t it” (20C:812-813). Such positions are particularly important in the
case of CCS, as “the primary advocates of CCS, national government and the
energy industry, are precisely those least trusted by the public” (Reiner and Nuttall,
2009:13). The most important aspects identified by participants in influencing trust
were overall agenda and bias. The perceptions that oil companies were purely after
profit was, for many, enough to dismiss them as untrustworthy. However, some
participants suggested that in fact they had more instinctive ‘trust’ in oil companies,
because they were under more scrutiny (FG3:17F), had more to lose from investing
in CCS (FG4:19B) or in some cases, because they “trust them to be horrible crooks”
(20E:950). This suggests that clarity in message has an important part to play.
Similar debates arose surrounding trust in NGOs, whereby some participants
immediately stated that they would have more trust in charities because of their
focus on “overall benefit” (17A:540) and “protecting the earth, and protecting ecology
and wildlife agenda” (19E:1002). Others however saw their “campaigny and in your
face” (17F:551) attitude, as an agenda in the same way as that of oil companies,
decreasing the overall efficacy of their message. Whether participants trusted what
Examining discourses on Carbon Capture and Storage
NGOs were saying or not they believed that “ you know where you stand with them”
(23A:1494), and this, accompanied by their perceived aim for transparency and
reliance on public acceptance for support (e.g.20F:967-968) results in, if not trust, a
respect which few give to industry. The difficulty of reconciling transparency with the
need for confidentiality on the part of private firms has been identified as a particular
deficit in the case of CCS by the International Risk Governance Council (IRGC,
2009; Terwel et al., 2009a).
Complexities surrounding CCS are compounded by the fact that it is not clear which
actors would be pro or against the technology. The fact that both industry and
environmental NGOs show a similar ‘cautious optimism’ towards the technology
surprised participants (see above). This revealed an implicit lower level of trust in oil
companies. One participant stated:
“if BP was promoting some sort of renewable energy, I guess you’d probably think
that maybe they’re trying to make money out of it, but almost, if they’re saying
something that’s not what they normally say then you think maybe, well either maybe
it’s true, or maybe something fishy’s going on that we don’t know about...” (18C:858862)
“...I would be like sceptical of Shell and BP...of having any involvement in
it...especially if they were saying, carbon capture’s great and its going to like, solve
climate change, I would immediately question as to whether it’s a good thing”
Conversely, on realising that NGOs were not ultimately against CCS they felt that
they had done them a disservice (FG1:17F:782), or that they should reconsider their
preconceptions of organisations are challenged as underlying organisational values
do not appear to align with their position on CCS. If, as Poortinga and Pidgeon
(2003) suggest people rely to some extent on clear articulation of values for
judgement of situations, then this might be a considerable limitation.
The lack of consideration of technical ability as a measure of trust in focus groups
suggests that people tend to rely on social values when making judgements (Mabon,
Examining discourses on Carbon Capture and Storage
2012; Slovic, 1999). Past experience comes to bear here, and several participants
stated that inherent distrust in oil companies was present as a result of events like
the Gulf of Mexico oil spill; “you can’t trust BP and Shell that have destroyed so
much...”(23B:1396). This demonstration of the ‘asymmetry principle’ (Slovic, 1993;
1999) illustrates how trust takes time to be built but can be destroyed immediately by
an unfortunate event, attaching stigma to the organisation or technology (Flynn et al.,
2001). However, in this particular case the mistrust was seen to go deeper:
“because of the issue, that they have been major players in the actual bringing about
of climate change, and therefore, in that respect I just have less faith...” (19A:13181320). Implications of language
The overarching opinion was that either overly positive or negative language was not
conducive to persuading participants about CCS. The use of the words
‘smokescreen’ and ‘exciting’ with respect to CCS were dismissed as ‘scare tactics’
(e.g.17F:479) and ‘propaganda’ (e.g.20D:715, 19F:806) respectively. The fact that
DECC referred to the technology as ‘exciting’ (DECC, 2012, pers.comm.,9 July)
justified many people’s underlying caution towards the government and their “flavour
of the month” (17E:605) approach to policy. Thus, strongly worded statements,
particularly when unaccompanied by concrete facts, were associated with underlying
agenda. People did not like being given reasons to support or reject CCS;
recognising that there is a difference between ‘selling’ and ‘convincing’ people about
the technology. They wanted to be presented with factual information which allowed
them to come to their own conclusion about it. As deConinck and Bäckstrand (2011)
state, and the ‘official’ analysis illustrated, advocates of CCS, such as governments
and industry, do not have the independence to present a neutral image of the
technology. The fact that strongly worded information generally elicited such
responses could provide insight into the way that engagement with the public should
be undertaken in this context. Additionally it raises questions as to the assumed
inability for members of the public to separate ‘facts’ and ‘values’ (Irwin, 1995; Irwin
and Michael, 2003), suggesting that, at least in the context of this sample, people
see the presentation of unbiased facts as a crucial part of decision making.
Examining discourses on Carbon Capture and Storage
The desire for balanced and qualified information is compounded in a belief that the
most trustworthy bodies for providing information on CCS are university research
institutes because they are seen to “objectively analyse” (31F:1400) the topic,
despite concern over the origin of funding (e.g. FG5:23A, FG4:20D, FG6:31D).
Interestingly, a similar level of trust was levelled at the Guardian newspaper, where,
what initially seemed to be caution towards the media in many cases turned into
unconditional trust: “...actually I trust everything the Guardian says...” (17F:583-584).
This is clearly a measure of bias in the sample, but the fact that the Guardian was
identified as the only newspaper which had a coherent depiction of CCS (see above)
could be deemed reassuring in this context.
5.2.5 Involvement in climate change mitigation policy
Much has been made of the need to engage the public more widely in policy making
(Eden, 1996; Wesselink et al., 2011), and as discussions in chapter 3 show it is
increasingly assumed as part of involvement in wider environmental governance
(Princen, 1994). It is interesting to note, therefore, that in the case of CCS
participants were rather dismissive of opportunities for involvement. In some
respects this is one measure of Irwin and Michael’s (2003) ‘discourses of ignorance’,
whereby people feel either that they are not capable of getting involved or that the
responsibility of deciding what to do about climate change lies with someone else:
“I mean there are people, they do their thing. I do mine, and you know, of course I’m
interested in what they do, but you know, I’ve got...I’ve got my own issues”
“people better informed than myself are dealing with it...” (31D:1000).
The power of business, financial and in some cases political interests are seen as
eclipsing any impact that individuals have, and although they recognise the potential
for purchasing habits or voting patterns to make a difference in the long run there is
general agreement that public opinion is itself too biased:
“because the public don’t know what they’re talking about and if they get the wrong
idea from the media, or from a different lobbying group who don’t have the right
opinion, then it’s a bit dangerous...who don’t have a measured an balanced and
informed opinion...” (17A:837-840)
Examining discourses on Carbon Capture and Storage
“how do we involve the public in a country like Britain, does it mean what The Sun
newspaper thinks?...” (20A:1391-1392).
Thus, there is recognition that public involvement in policy decisions on ultimately
technical matters complicates the picture: “I think there can be a real problem getting
things done” (20A:1390), preventing the best technical decision from being made
(Löfstedt, 2005).
There is an apparent contradiction here, as participants stated; “I like to think that I
would have the opportunity to have an opinion, I wouldn’t want it to be assumed that
I wouldn’t want to have an opinion...” (17B:862-863), through “being made aware
and made to feel part of the process...” (18A:1162). Equally, they admitted that they
might be more inclined to have a say if it was something they deemed “destructive
and invasive that had big negatives that people were capable of understanding”
(17A:859-860). Not only does this suggest that the technical nature of CCS makes it
a difficult technology to engage with, it implies that people do not see it as a great
threat. It seems that the same ‘high-consequence risks’ (Giddens, 1991:4) that are
discussed in relation to nuclear for instance are not perceived for CCS. Similarly,
Gough (2007) found that 74% of their survey respondents believed that risks
associated with CCS would be much less than nuclear. Indeed one participant stated
that they would feel more inclined towards making themselves heard over nuclear or
fracking than CCS and that they felt detached from the technology until they were to
witness an increase in energy prices as a result, a finding also evident in Shackley et
al. (2004).
The focus groups yielded a lot of insight into the ways people start to form opinions
about CCS. People’s opinion were shaped by a mixture of social and to a lesser
extent technological factors, perception of the actors promoting CCS, through
comparison with technologies and its perceived ability to offer a ‘fix’ for climate
change. In addition, such discussions suggest that the apparent lack of engagement
with wider public on CCS might not be a problem. Furthermore, the tendency to
question the technology, the need for unbiased information, technical information
and statistics above might be no more than ‘pseudo’ or ‘cursory’ opinions (ACCAT,
2009; Malone et al., 2010) brought about by the context of focus groups. That said,
whether wider involvement in the implementation of CCS is required or not, the
Examining discourses on Carbon Capture and Storage
public want someone that they trust to make decisions on their behalf and they need
to be involved in defining who this is (FG3:19F). As Löfstedt (2005) suggests where
trust exists then top-down decision making is not necessarily a bad thing. As
evidence above shows, in the context of CCS, the difficulties of reconciling the
dominant parties with wider public trust might be where the tensions lie.
Examining discourses on Carbon Capture and Storage
This study aimed to examine the construction of a discourse around the technology
of CCS, looking particularly at its portrayal as a ‘technological solution’ for climate
change. It finds, like Stephens et al. (2011), that no stakeholders preclude the
consideration of CCS as a climate change mitigation option. The government’s
preoccupation with the promotion of success leads to a less nuanced viewpoint
(Buehler et al., 2005). Industry recognises the need to present facts in a light that
does not exaggerate success, perhaps in recognition of their need to preserve their
corporate integrity in light of external criticism. This certainly seems to have been a
major player in the definition of CCS amongst the public in this study; perceptions of
the actors themselves are deemed more important than having technical knowledge.
It is a general disenchantment with those who promote it, whether industry or the
government, that lies behind any scepticism towards the technology. Likewise, this
disenchantment, made prominent by actions of NGOs and the media, could be said
to be behind overall acceptance, or at least not rejection, of CCS, in light of failure to
advance on emissions reduction commitments.
The results from this study contribute to research on the social implications of
technological solutions for climate change, and climate change mitigation more
generally. In addition it adds to the growing body of literature on CCS and
interactions between different bodies of stakeholders in this context. Malone et al.
(2010) express concerns over the tendency for social research on CCS to make
conclusions beyond the scope of the study. It is recognised that the sample size of
both elements of this study make it a case-study in nature and extending it in all
directions would be a natural next step. In addition, the focus on climate change
‘solutions’ is a problematic angle to take, as utilising it within public discussions
implies that people feel that climate change is a problem that needs addressing in
the first place. Although this was made explicit in the focus groups, it is recognised
that wider opinions might differ greatly. Finally, in examining CCS as a solution in
isolation it perhaps places an over emphasis on its importance. It is clear from the
work undertaken that government, industry and NGOs alike support a wide range of
initiatives to address climate change. This can in turn be a criticism angled at any
Examining discourses on Carbon Capture and Storage
study undertaken in this area. Despite such limitations, the results of this study
provide some interesting insights.
In considering the construction of discourse surrounding CCS in both ‘official’ and
‘public’ arenas focus has been on particular ‘discourse coalitions’ between actors
(Hajer, 1995), and the nature of their arguments or conversations. It is clear that
these discourses are formed by combining technical understanding and expertise,
with social beliefs of both organisations and individuals and their relationship with
wider institutional cultures. Such deliberations are equally applicable to the ‘official’
and ‘public’ arenas, and the interrelations between them are perhaps the most
important and interesting of all. Figure 5 (next page) adds these findings to the initial
conceptual framework in the context of this study.
Examining discourses on Carbon Capture and Storage
Figure 5: Conceptual model incorporating findings of this study
Fossil fuel
Ideological: Worldview
‘protecting the world’;
’arrogance’; ‘pursuit of
Systems: Social reasoning
comparison with other
technologies; ethics;
perception of actors
‘Official’ arena
Situation: location
Warrant: Importance
taking into
location justification –
local, national, global
climate change;
energy security;
business sense
The disproving of assumptions that different actors would present conflicting views
towards CCS stresses the importance of looking beyond the obvious when coming to
decisions about such a technology. General optimism, or at least not outright
rejection, towards the technology is confusing to the public, as organisations do not
perform the functions that they are expected to. On the surface, the dominant frames
for CCS are climate change mitigation and economic benefits (Markusson et al.,
2011), however in reality the differences lie deeper, in the motivation and ‘ideology’
surrounding support for the technology, and it is this which determines the overall
discourse of which they are a part; whether this be one of “protecting the planet” or
“arrogant” technological fixes. People are naturally suspicious of actors that they feel
are for or against a technology when they would not normally be, the fact that this is
dependent on the behaviour, past actions of, and ultimately trust in the organisation
suggests that these ideological frameworks are often imposed by the public on
‘official’ actors in order to make it easier for them to come to their own decisions.
People weigh these elements up with the technical information they are provided
with, thus Fischer’s (2004) irrationalities in decision-making play a central role in the
acceptance of the technology. This in itself is a fundamental illustration of the social
construction of a technology.
This study has shown that although CCS is presented as a ‘solution’ by several
groups of actors its claim to be a ‘fix’ is limited. All actors recognise the inability for
there to be a ‘mythical silver bullet’ (Bäckstrand et al., 2011:279) for climate change
and as such it is presented as a part of a wider solution.
Discussions suggest that people do not generally desire a ‘fix’, preferring attitude
change to technology as a solution for climate change, or at least a combination of
both. Ackerman (2004) believes that part of a ‘technological fix’ is imaginary or
visionary rather than reality, and, as such, the apparent feeling that CCS represents
a ‘fix’ for our behaviour rather than climate change could underline much of the
resentment and suspicions felt towards it. Government endorsement of the
technology through the creation of a ‘technological race’ for CCS projects
strengthens this view in a way that pushes other options aside (Gough and Mander,
2012). Disengagement with the government could relate to this, linked to a personal
conflict between desire for a solution to climate change and human accountability
and moral obligation to change behaviour. Although this is undoubtedly a measure of
the sample, as well as the context of focus group research, it is not a limitation as
such, as it highlights the highly constructed and individualistic nature of discussions
surrounding technology.
The possible policy implications of this study should be considered. As discussed in
this paper there is debate on the extent to which people should be involved in
technical decisions surrounding CCS. The findings suggest that the mismatch
identified between ‘official’ interest and ‘public’ awareness and knowledge of CCS is
not as problematic as it could be. In turn there is unlikely to be a large body of
negative public opinion surrounding CCS. The fact remains that no large scale
implementation of CCS has been undertaken in the UK and, as a result,
developments in the next few years will provide further telling insight in this area.
Despite this, if wider engagement is to take place, ‘official’ actors should be careful to
take into account the tendency people have to weigh up the following: importance of
technology, authority of organisation, emotional appeal and in particular its links with
other technologies and worldview or ideology. Thus, as many studies in this area
have shown, the provision of technical information is secondary to a range of social
and ideological considerations. This, in itself, suggests that communication efforts
which rely solely on provision of technical information are likely not to have the
desired effect.
Most importantly this study illustrates that applying a universal model of
communication and engagement does not work for every technology or at every
scale. An interesting extension, or indeed parallel study, would be to undertake a
similarly structured investigation in the context of a specific CCS project in the UK
once they are announced, making use of local newspapers as well as
communications from industry and local environmental groups. This would provide
empirical insight into the topic on a local scale and it is expected that the outcomes
of, and motivations for, decisions would be very different. Ultimately the
irrationalities, emotions and ideological viewpoints that play a part in the construction
of discourses surrounding CCS remind us that the consideration of technologies in
all circles, industry, politics, wider civil society and the public is a social process, and
that overlooking this completely in pursuit of the ultimate technical solution will likely
do more harm than good.
Dear Jasmine Livingston,
KCL/11-12_803 The �technological fix� as a climate change solution: Perceptions of
official pronouncements on carbon capture and storage and renewable technologies
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Post-Combustion Capture
CO2 is removed from the flue gases by a process called ‘scrubbing’. It is dissolved in
a low temperature amine solvent which is then heated and the CO2 removed. The
solvent is recycled and reused. CO2 is compressed and transported to the storage
Pre-Combustion Capture
The fossil fuel used in the industrial process is gasified to give a gas made up of CO
and H2. Steam is added which instigates the following chemical reaction:
CO+H2O ⇌ CO2+H2
Removing the CO2 from the products means that a hydrogen rich fuel gas is left. As
there is no heat needed to remove CO2 from the solvent as with post-combustion
the energy use is much lower. The efficiency of the process is less though and
therefore using currently available technologies post-combustion is currently a
cheaper option.
Oxyfuel Capture
The fuel is burnt in pure oxygen which produces a flue gas of mostly CO2, with some
water vapour. This makes separation for compression much easier, despite in
situations where coal is the fossil fuel then nitrogen and sulphur oxides also need to
be removed. The process of creating oxygen is uncompetitive and the process
requires the design of new turbines. If the initial investment is made, however, this
process is seen to be efficient and cost-effective.
HM Government
Clean Coal: An industrial strategy for the development of CCS across the UK
The Carbon Plan: Delivering our Low Carbon Future (2011)
A Strategy for Developing Carbon Abatement Technologies for Fossil Fuel Use
UK CCS – Demonstration Project Industry Day Presentation (2007)
Competition for a CCS Demonstration Project: Project Information Memo (2007)
Towards Carbon Capture and Storage: A Consultation Document (2008)
Impact Assessment of the Carbon Capture Readiness requirements (2009)
Carbon Capture Readiness Guidance (2009)
Impact Assessment of Coal and CCS Requirements in ‘A framework for the
development of clean coal’ (2009)
A Consultation on the Proposed Offshore Carbon Dioxide Storage Licensing
Scheme (2009)
Towards CCS: Government Response to Consultation (2009)
DECC Guidance for EU Funding Mechanism ‘NER300’ for Carbon Capture and
Storage Demonstration Projects (2010)
UK CCS Commercial Scale Demonstration Programme (2010)
A study to explore the potential for CCS business clusters in the UK (2010)
CO2 Storage in the UK – Industry Potential (2010)
Energy Security & Green Economy Bill: CCS Assistant Schemes (2010)
How the Office of Carbon Capture & Storage will drive delivery in the UK (2010)
DECC Science Advisory Group Briefing Note on Carbon Capture and Storage
Energy Act 2011: Carbon Capture and Storage Reuse of Infrastructure (2011)
Energy Act 2011: Aid Memoire (2011)
Planning our Electric Future: A White Paper for secure, affordable and low-carbon
electricity (2011)
Minutes of the fourth DECC CCS Development Forum held on 2 November 2011
One North Sea: Joint Ministerial Statement on Climate Change and Energy
Security (2011)
Energy Bill 2012-13: Emissions Performance Standard Aide Memoire (2012)
Energy Bill 2012-13: Renewables Obligation (RO) Transitional Arrangements Aide
Memoire (2012)
Second Session Energy Bill Aide Memoire (2012)
The CCS Roadmap (2012)
CCS Innovation Competition FAQs (2012)
CCS Innovation Competition £20m Competition Call (2012)
CCS Roadmap: Innovation and R&D (2012)
CCS Roadmap: Regulatory Framework (2012)
CCS Roadmap: Skills and Support (2012)
CCS Roadmap: Storage Strategy (2012)
CCS Roadmap: Transport and Storage Infrastructure (2012)
Letter from DECC Correspondence Unit to Jasmine Livingston, dated 9 July 2012
BP Energy Outlook 2030, London, (2012)
Press releases and speeches all available from [accessed 28/08/12],
search ‘carbon capture’
Answer Sheet from Carbon Capture and Storage Association, dated 31 July 2012
Evading Capture: Is the UK Power Sector ready for carbon capture and storage?
Carbon Choices – Options for demonstrating carbon capture and storage in the UK
power sector (2009)
Press releases and online articles available from
[accessed 16/07/12]
Friends of the Earth
Briefing Note: Carbon Capture and Storage (2005)
Press releases and online articles available from [accessed
16/07/12] search ‘carbon capture’
False Hope: Why CCS won’t save the climate (2008)
Press releases all available from
[accessed 16 July 2012]
Joint Statements
Joint Statement on CCS (Greenpeace, FoE, WWF and RSPB) (2008)
Joint Statement on coal CCS (Greenpeace, FoE, WWF, RSPB, Oxfam, Christian
Aid, World Development Movement) (2009)
CCS Value for Money (WWF and RSPB) (2010)
Retrieved from
search terms ‘carbon capture’ in headline [accessed 25/08/12]
Document / Event:
What is the purpose of the document?
How does the document present CCS?
Framing of CCS:
Use of data:
How does the document view interactions with other stakeholders?
Pseudonyms Date and
17th July
18th July
Professional Age
Background range
4 x Engineer 22 – 34
2 x Admin
2 x Finance
1 x Gov
1 x Engineer
1 x Admin
2 x Student
3 x Admin
1 x Finance
1 x IT
2 x Retired
1 x Medicine
5 x Student
1 x Finance
4 x Student
1 x Admin
1 x Journalist
19th July
20th July
23th July
31st July
3 minutes
6 minutes
QUESTION 1: 10 minutes
16 minutes
Firstly I am going to ask you to come up with a list of so called climate change ‘solutions’
options that you are aware of, these can be as specific or general as you want. One of you
will need to write them down, so here is a pen and some paper. I’m going to give you about
3 minutes for this....
Thank you for that. Now I would like you to have a look at these and consider which one of
these you feel is likely to be the most successful and the one which is the least likely, and
also which one you feel a preference towards. You can write these in the boxes 1, 2 and 3
on the answer sheet in front of you.
Has everyone had time to do that? What have you chosen and why?
What about it makes you think it will succeed / not succeed?
Why is this a preferable solution?
DISCUSSION: 5 minutes
QUESTION 2: 10 minutes
26 minutes
Part of my dissertation is focusing on a particular technology called Carbon Capture and
Storage which I notice you included / you didn’t include. Can you describe what it is to the
others / does anyone have any idea what it is?
ANSWER: 1 minute OR
So with this in mind, I’m going to give you a series of different explanations of CCS and I’d
like you to have a look at them all. I’m going to give you about 3 minutes for this.
READING EXTRACTS: 3 minutes (or 4 minutes if they didn’t answer the above
Which one do you feel is the most convincing?
Why do you think this?
Are there any that you feel are particularly bad / good?
Would you need further information after reading them – in a standalone
capacity / together?
DISCUSSION: 6 - 7 minutes
QUESTION 3: 5 minutes
31 minutes
Now you have a bit of an idea about the technology of CCS, what do you imagine the
biggest benefits of the technology to be?
And the negatives?
Why do you think this is a problem?
Who is it likely to effect?
Are you personally concerned about this?
DISCUSSION: 5 minutes
QUESTION 4: 10 minutes
41 minutes
Now we’re going to move on to looking at what information is provided on technologies such
as CCS and the organisations who provide this information. I’m going to give you a sheet
with various statements that different organisations have made on the technology. I’d like
you have a look through and group these into those that you feel are more likely to influence
your opinion and less likely to influence your opinion of CCS (I know some of you might
already have formed opinions about it but if you could put these to one side for a minute). I’m
going to give you a few minutes to discuss this and then we’ll come back and talk about it.
Why did you make this decision?
What is it about this particular statement that makes it more believable?
How does the use of language shape your opinion of it?
Does it make you want to know more?
Do you think trust is important in the success of a technology?
DISCUSSION: 6 minutes
QUESTION 5: 10 minutes
51 minutes
Now I’m going to give you a series of organisations from which these statements came from,
and I would like you as a group consider which of these you feel you have the most trust in.
Don’t worry if you don’t agree with each other, we will talk about this in a minute.
Did anyone disagree with the consensus that you came to in your group?
Why did you come to this decision?
Why do you feel that this organisation is more trustworthy than this one?
What factors do you consider when assessing how trustworthy an organisation is?
Do you think that your opinion on this would be similar to others?
DISCUSSION: 7 minutes
QUESTION 6: 10 minutes
61 minutes
Now I would like you to, again as a group, try and match the organisations with the
statements that we looked at before, use the same sheet as previously and put it in the last
All finished? Why did you make these decisions?
So these are the actual answers. Does this change your initial opinion of the statements at
Are you surprised with the outcomes?
Would this change your opinion of 1) the organisation, 2) the technology?
DISCUSSION: 6 minutes
QUESTION 7: 5 minutes
66 minutes
The final area that I want to cover is to do with decisions that are made about climate
change mitigation options. Who do you feel has an influence on policy decisions made about
climate change?
Whose interests do you feel policy decisions take into account?
How important do you feel it is for the public to be involved in policy decisions
on climate change?
What are the barriers to your engagement in policy decisions on climate
change mitigation?
DISCUSSION: 5 minutes
QUESTION 8: 5 minutes
71 minutes
And as a final thought I would like to ask you, do you think that technology can ‘solve’
climate change?
What do you think is a better solution?
Do you think it is the only way forward?
SUMMARY: 4 minutes
75 minutes
Now I would like to draw this discussion to a close and to do this I will attempt to
summarise the main points you raised...
Does that seem accurate? Have we missed anything?
EXTRA: 5 minutes
80 minutes
So to draw this all to a close, have you any further comments you would like to make or
questions that you would like to raise?
Me: So just to finish this section, do you think trust is important in the success of a
technology, so either trust in the organisations who are promoting it, or in the technology
19C: I think definitely in everything, and whoever telling you about it as well...yeah
19A: Yeah
19E: Just the research which has gone in beforehand, before they’ve got to the point of
talking about introducing it
Me: Anyone else?
19B: I think so, in some ways, as distrusting I am of governments, for some reason I would
be happier to see a government pick up on the back of strong research and follow that
through because I think that would probably benefit the public more, and also bring the
public in as a stakeholder in some ways, rather than if it was some, a specialist industry who
had brought it in and were trying to sell it...but yeah, I think trust is very important, I think
people would trust it because they are stakeholders, would probably trust the whole thing,
the process more so....
Me: OK, with that in mind I’m going to give you a series of organisations, I have two sets.
Does everyone know who all of these organisations are? Most of them say...
19C: They are pretty self-explanatory
Me: Yeah
19B: I don’t know Statoil but I can guess...
19E: Is that an American one, Statoil?
Me: It’s a Norwegian oil company
19E: OK
Me: I’d like you to consider which ones of these you would have the most trust in...
19D: I like all the charity ones
19E: Are we supposed to be doing something in this box?
Me: No, not yet, maybe try and all talk together otherwise it gets a bit hard to hear
19B: Jasmine, is this trust in the companies, or trust regarding this particular issue?
Me: In the companies in general, but imagining they might say something about it.
19F: I guess a lot of them have got their own agendas apart from maybe research...really
research based ones, I would say, coming from a science background
19E: I would trust the Guardian...
19E:...and I would trust the...
19D: The Uni
19A: I would trust the Uni the most...
19E: Greenpeace and the WWF and FoE really
Me: So everyone apart from the oil companies really?
19A: Yes
19E: Well I feel they have a protecting the earth, and protecting ecology and wildlife agenda
19C: I think probably I probably would trust the DECC
Me: You would?
19C: Yeah
19F: But aren’t they...politicians basicically, so not to be trusted
19A: Well I’d say the academic one was the most neutral...
19D: Yeah, exactly doesn’t have an agenda, but even the Guardian needs to sell papers at the end of
the day
19F: Yeah, exactly
19C: But then even in universities funding comes from somewhere and sometimes funding
comes from places that aren’t neutral
19B: Or a combination
19F: Yeah
19E: Yeah, I think...
19B: If we had a combination of 2 or 3 of these I think it would probably, it would probably
bring a healthier attitude, because they would pretty much act as a watchdog in the
competition, because if there is something that somebody else is doing then you might get a might get more for your money, if I can put it in the old adage...
19E: And it’s not saying that BP and Shell don’t also do good things or sponsor good things,
but there must be a profit making agenda below that
Me: So their agenda is quite important, erm, what factors do you consider when assessing
how trustworthy an organisation is? So we’ve had agenda, and...
19D: Like their history, like, I can’t remember which one it was....
19C: Was it Shell
19D:...with the oil spill...whoever it was BP...
19C: Shell’s really dodgy too
19D: It’s like now you wouldn’t trust G4S again, you know what I mean...
19D:...they’ve had a bad name so you wouldn’t trust them
19E: And they nearly ran dad down in Nottingham yesterday!
Me: How does their logo affect your opinion on them?
19C: Well the panda certainly makes you think, ‘oh they must be trustworthy’
19D: BP
Me: Why is that?
19A: Coz they’re nice, pandas
19B: It’s a cultural thing I guess
19D: BP are definitely aware of that because they are trying to change to make themselves
look green and flowery...
[agreement and laughs]
19E: They were a shield weren’t they... they know what they’re playing at they’ve got a flower
Me: OK, so, each of these organisations said one of these statements, if you could try and
match them up that would be good, there are 10 statements and 10 organisations...
19B: Ahhhh, Do we get a prize if we get 10 out of 10 right
19E: Not sure I’m going to get any
Me: You can talk about it if you want
19A: I thought there were no right or wrong answers
Me: This is what people keep pointing out...
19C: I feel I’ve been harmed
19A: Well I’d say, that the one that are perhaps more negative towards it might be from the
oil companies...
19D: I think the last 3 must be dunno actually, the one we preferred...are going
to, more research based ones
19C: The one about Norway might be the Norwegian oil company
Me: You’re the first group I’ve given that away to, everyone else...
19E: Been led on, tricked...
19F: I think number 3 is probably the global CCS Institute because they are excited about
19F: So maybe number 6 might be the DECC because they are the ones who talk about the
government and the EU
19A: It sounds like something boring yeah...
19F:...but as for the rest, I don’t know
19C: The ones that are sort of trying to reassure you that it’s OK, like number 4, sound like
they might be a charity who has a sort of agenda to look after...things
Me: Do you mean the world?
19C: The world, yeah
19B: I think the last one might be the university actually...I’m not so sure, it just seems to
take all of the points of view together, almost
19C: Then in the newspaper, you could have, it depends what the articles about, whether it’s
a comment thing, or an actual article about something...
19D: I reckon number 8’s Greenpeace...
19B: I think number 9 is either Shell or BP then
19C: Hmmm, yeah
19A: Yeah, I’d bet good money on that...on the flip side though, maybe...I don’t know...
19C: And number 3 might be one of the oil companies because it says ‘allowing these coal
and gas fired power stations to play a crucial part’ so its, we can sort of carry on
19D: I think number 7’s the DECC, they’re trying to convince us that its ready and available,
and can go now
19A: I think number 1 sounds like the kind of thing you would see in a paper, like a headline,
in the small little bit...
19B: [under breath] But surely, not in the Guardian....
19A: I’m not saying anything...
19F: Well it is just a quote though, taken from somewhere else...
19C: Actually it does look like the thinks that the Guardian put at the top of their...
19B: But they’re not saying things cause earthquakes surely...
Me: OK, we’ve got some, I’m going to give you the answers now...
19F: Oh no
19E: I don’t think I’ll have anything right
19D: Yeah, I got the Greenpeace one right [laughs]
Me: You actually got more right I think than most of the groups I’ve done...
19C: We didn’t get the last one right though
[surprised sounds]
19A: Oh and number 7 was not expected
Me: So, which ones surprise you?
19C: Number 2
Me: Which ones that?
19C: Which is Imperial College London
19E: Did you get any right?
19D: Yeah, this one
Me: Why?
19C: But then I suppose they probably are all quite used to writing personal statements and
that’s probably why it sounds like that, I think it just sounded a bit...well non academic
sounding I guess....
19D: Yeah, I’m not sure I trust them anymore
19C: No
19A: Number 7 shocks me a bit...that it was BP
[silence while looking]
Me: Yeah, anymore?
19B: I would imagine for number 7, that BP are doing something on that front already if they
say that...
Me: Yeah, in the States they do carbon capture
19B: Yeah, I wouldn’t have put them together, but I guess, with the kind of knowledge that
these guys have they should be at the forefront of these things
19C: I suppose it’s actually not that surprising that people like BP and Shell, sort of
happy to praise this kind of technology, because it lets them carry on what they’re doing and
um...which I guess is what Greenpeace are trying to say in number 8 as a ‘smokescreen’
19A: Yeah
me: What about the charities in general, are any of them different to how you imagined?
19E: I got the WWF right, it was the only one apart from Statoil which I got right...the one
which was Greenpeace I thought was FoE so I’m quite happy because they’re almost....
19C: I think FoE one...
19E:...the one I thought was Greenpeace was the Guardian so...
19C:...I think that one’s quite reassuring that they have a quite, that their approach to it is
quite measured, so not too emotive or kind of...
Me: Does it change your initial opinion of any of these statements, knowing who said them?
19C: I can’t remember what my initial opinions were...
Me: Whether they were convincing or not
19C: Convincing
19E: I might be convinced that it might cause earthquakes...
19E:...if the Guardian says it
Me: Anyone else got anything to add?
19A: Er, the ones for BP and Shell, I’d be naturally distrusting towards those organisations
so I guess knowing who said it changes how I perceive it a bit
19C: I suppose, it...kind of...changes, erm, the way I think of it as a technology, as a sort of
more buying time thing then a viable solution if you can see the oil companies saying oh yes,
it’s a good idea...maybe that’s very biased
Me: So that makes you more sceptical?
19C: More sceptical, yes
19A: Yeah, if they’re behind it, then their sole aim is...
19C: Yeah this is going to be profit, I mean they’re not going to be altruistic in any sense, it’s
not in their interest to be
19C: No
19B: But profit is not necessarily a bad thing
19A: In some case it can be but yeah...
19B: But if it, if it’s a large organisation that has 1000s of employees, then if it thinks that if
the way the world is going its becoming, shall we say more politically correct in a sense then
it would know that it has to see its future in that certain context and I would imagine that they
would...I have absolutely know like of BP, where I came from they actually changed the
government there...
19A: OK, yeah
19B:...many many years ago so but...that said, I do think they would I think, but people who
would see into the future maybe from a different angle than maybe the governments, given
that a lot of the businesses actually control a lot of the politicians in themselves then, in
some ways it would be in their interest, I think, to develop something that is viable for the
public to use in future, because if there was going to be a huge backlash then they would
have a lot to lose, so I’m not saying it’s a good thing, but it is not necessarily a bad thing
either, and I think it is important to look at everything with a considerable amount of mistrust
19A: Yeah, I mean, I just think, that because of the issue, that they have been major players
in the actual bringing about of climate change, and therefore, in that respect I just have less
faith in it, but then again...
19B: But they are the people who have, in some ways, something to lose, rather than the
Guardian’s of this world don’t have anything to lose they can say what they like, and they
can sort of change their mind, change their sort of side if you like, tomorrow, depending on
what sort of the way the wind blows, if they wanted to, I’m not saying that’s what they will
do...but that will be sort of a simpler choice to make for some organisations that do not have
billings and boards I guess is important I think not to trust anybody
Me: 19F, did you want to say something
19F: I just wanted to say that I was a bit disappointed in the DECC, that that was their
statement, because it sounds like it just gives them an excuse to carry on being reliant on
fossil fuels...
19F:...although, it does say that they will play a ‘crucial part’ so there may have been more to
what they were going to say afterwards, but, yeah, it just seems a bit sort of, not very
forward looking
19C: And they used the word exciting which none of us liked
19D: No none of us liked that did we
19A: It just looks like something from The Thick of It, like when they’re trying to come up with
a catchline...
Me: Alright, so would it change your opinion of the organisation having read those
19C: I’m disappointed in the Guardian
Me: Anyone?
19B: It definitely makes you read it in a different way, I don’t know if it would change your
opinion but it makes you read it...
19A: Yeah, it makes you question it but I wouldn’t change it all on one statement
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