In ALIGN-CCUS, I’m leader for Work Package 6 (WP6), Implementing CCUS in society. Favourable societal sentiment is key for the deployment of CCUS projects in Europe. Multinational firms and governments now recognise the need for a “social licence (or mandate)” to operate and that this has to be earned through proactive and respectful liaison with society.
Societal perceptions not only depend on knowledge and perceptions of CCUS – e.g. understanding of aim and need of CCUS, or the perceived safety of CO2 transport and storage – but is also determined by socio-political factors, such as trust in project developers, perceived fairness of decision-making procedures, or a fair distribution of local project costs and benefits. By means of innovative basic and applied research in WP6, we will identify the factors associated with societal opposition and support for CCUS, in order to develop tools that CCUS stakeholders can use to engage with local communities and the wider public.
I have coordinated and conducted social science research in large multidisciplinary (international) programmes on CCS since 2004, focusing on topics such as public awareness, knowledge, perception, acceptance, communication, trust and fairness. As a scientist, I strongly believe in an evidence-based, empirical approach to addressing and solving societal issues. In my work, I look for opportunities to apply basic scientific knowledge to address issues in wider society and come up with practical and effective suggestions and solutions.
To me, the fact that ALIGN-CCUS has a fully-fledged social science work package focusing on understanding and addressing non-technical barriers is a key and unique asset to the project. Being part of a large multidisciplinary European project is really valuable and motivating, as collaborating with partners from different backgrounds secures the relevance, quality and sharing of our joint research and insights. Moreover, I believe that the considerable time, expertise and effort being invested in the dissemination of the project to different publics is what sets ALIGN-CCUS apart from other projects.