CO2 OUT OF SIGHT, NOT OUT OF MIND: PERCEPTION OF CARBON CAPTURE AND STORAGE RISKS
As the CO2 concentration in the atmosphere peaked in 2016, limiting the global temperature increase to only 2 degrees might become unattainable. Although the energy transition is well under way, phasing out fossil fuels might take many decades due to the growing energy demand worldwide. The good news is, there might be a surprising solution which lies where the fossil fuels come from – deep underground. Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) technology can deliver 12% of the cumulative reduction of emissions required by 2050.
This technology allows to do exactly what the name says: capture, transport (if required) and securely store CO2, usually several kilometers underground, at a suitable location chosen by geologists. The gas is then pumped into a reservoir with an impenetrable cap rock – often the same reservoir that was keeping the oil and gas in place for millions of years.
Like any technology, it comes with risks, the main one being a CO2 leakage. An abrupt leakage might be dangerous for the local community, because high concentrations of CO2 pose health risks. Research shows that the probability of such an event is extremely small and it is very unlikely to cause harm to people or local flora and fauna. Nonetheless, the technology is still perceived as unacceptably risky by many, which might stem from the behavioral biases we possess.
CCS does not claim to be the ultimate solution that would stop climate change once and for all, but it seems to be the necessary stepping stone to a net zero emission world.