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Journal of Cleaner Production 103 (2015) 724e736

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The future potential for Carbon Capture and Storage in climate change
mitigation e an overview from perspectives of technology, economy
and risk
Ronald Wennersten a, Qie Sun a, *, Hailong Li b

Institute of Thermal Science and Technology, Shandong University, Jinan, China

lardalens University, Va
sters, Sweden
Energy Technology, School of Business, Society and Energy, Ma

a r t i c l e i n f o

a b s t r a c t

Article history:
Received 5 April 2014
Received in revised form
1 July 2014
Accepted 7 September 2014
Available online 16 September 2014

According to the recent IPCC reports, the effects from anthropogenic climate change effects are becoming
more serious and actions more urgent. The global mean concentration of CO2, the most important
Greenhouse Gas (GHG), in the atmosphere is now close to 400 ppm. The most comprehensive research
efforts concerning safe levels propose that we should strive to keep the atmospheric concentration of
CO2 below 350 ppm. This is also a more transparent global goal than using effects in the components of
the climate system. Most scenarios show that the combustion of fossil fuels will increase in the future,
while the development of renewables is still too marginal to stop this growth. The possibility that
countries will leave fossil resources underground does not seem realistic. The only options in the short
run to halt emissions of CO2 are the large-scale application of Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) in
combination with increased energy efciency. In the long run, we have to radically transform our societal
metabolism towards greater resource efciency, where renewables can play a more important role. The
main barriers for implementation of CCS on a large scale are not technical, but economic and social. As
long as the costs for emitting CO2 are much lower than implementing CCS technology, there will not be a
market-driven development of CCS. A major challenge for CCS will be to achieve wide public acceptance,
since this will also affect the future political attitude to it. This will require an open communication about
safety aspects early in the planning phase, where it can be shown that safety issues can be handled, even
in the event of major leaks of CO2. To assume a low probability of accidents is not a feasible way forward
in the communication process. The future concerning CO2 emissions will be determined very much by
actions of the biggest emitters. The developed countries have already emitted a large amount of CO2 and
must now take a step forward to show that they are willing to invest in CCS technology. At this stage, it is
reasonable to expect developed countries to take a leading role in developing the CCS technology on a
large-scale. It is highly probable that developing countries like China will follow this path in the near
future, since they have a clear ambition to take a lead in climate change mitigation in the long run and to
avoid blame for a deteriorating environment.
2014 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS)
Climate change mitigation
Planetary boundaries
CO2 emissions

1. Introduction
The issues around climate change effects are becoming more
and more serious and urgent as lately highlighted at the launch of
the IPCCs 5th report in Stockholm in September 2013. At the same
time, the global political system seems to be paralysed when it
comes to binding international agreements to reduce Greenhouse

* Corresponding author.
E-mail address: (Q. Sun).
0959-6526/ 2014 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

Gas (GHG) emissions. This stood clear after the UN meetings in

Copenhagen 2009 and Warsaw 2013. Human emissions today are at
a level stated as the worst-case scenario in the 3rd IPCC report from
2001 (IPCC, 2001). It was predicted then that if we did nothing, we
would reach this worst-case scenario by now, and indeed we have.
In their headline statement from the IPCC report released on March
30, 2014, it is written: Warming of the climate system is unequivocal, and since the 1950s, many of the observed changes are
unprecedented over decades to millennia. The atmosphere and
ocean have warmed, the amounts of snow and ice have diminished,
sea level has risen, and the concentrations of greenhouse gases

R. Wennersten et al. / Journal of Cleaner Production 103 (2015) 724e736

have increased (IPCC, 2014). If we take these ndings seriously, it is

obvious that the time has come to act rapidly. To do so, we have to
understand some basic facts around the situation and also get a
realistic view on the available mitigation options on short and long
The global mean concentration of CO2, the most important
anthropogenic GHG, in the atmosphere is now close to 400 ppm.
We can say with condence that the mean rates of increase in atmospheric concentrations over the past century are unprecedented
in the last 22,000 years (IPCC, 2013). If we continue to emit GHGs at
current rates, scientists estimate that atmospheric CO2 could reach
500 ppm by 2050 and 800 ppm by 2100. The present development
will not be limited by the availability of fossil fuels, but only
through global agreements, or a severe decline in the world economy (Lackner, 2003). Continued emissions of greenhouse gases will
cause further global warming and changes in all components of the
climate system. It is becoming more and more obvious that mitigating climate change will require substantial and sustained reductions in GHG emissions (IPCC, 2013).
Safe limits of CO2 in the atmosphere and their relationship to
global mean temperatures are frequently discussed, but the general
opinion among researchers is that, at the very least, we have to
stabilise the situation at the present level of CO2 in the atmosphere.
In work focussing on the nine planetary boundaries, it is argued
that there is a critical threshold between 350 and 550 ppm
m et al., 2009). Several scenarios for global warming and
effects of ecosystems are also based on this range of concentrations
m et al. (2009) propose a boundary of
(IEA, 2010). Rockstro
350 ppm, which aims at ensuring the continued existence of the
large polar ice sheets that are critical to avoiding tipping points in
climate change. By 1988, this limit had been breached. Several
types of targets have been developed in order to tackle climate
change and develop policies e.g. absolute concentration of GHG or
cumulative CO2-equivalent emission targets, global warming targets, radioactive forcing targets (Allen et al., 2009; Azar et al., 2013;
Meinshausen et al., 2009). The problem with several of the targets
is that actions taken by emitting nations are difcult to relate to
their targets (Victor, 2009). Aiming at global agreements based on
global temperatures or the consequences of global warming such as
changes in rainfall, storms etc. is highly ambiguous, as these cannot
be predicted with high degree of certainty. Moreover, using these
objectives will validate climate change scepticisms, as both temperatures and consequences will show short term variations
(Easterling and Wehner, 2009). These topics were also discussed
during the presentation of the IPCCs 5th report in Stockholm 2013.
In addition, cumulative targets like Limiting cumulative CO2
emissions over 2000e2050 to 1000 Gt CO2 yields a 25% probability
of warming exceeding 2  C are difcult to communicate
(Meinshausen et al., 2009). In contrast, an absolute concentration
target is more obvious, easier to measure and communicate, and
the consequences can be followed up over long time periods. The
conclusion from above is that only more scientically based
thinking about safe levels of CO2 concentration states that we
should try to stay under 350 ppm. Research to dene this planetary
boundary is based on the last 30 years advancement in earth
system science, which has increased our understanding of how the
earth system's intricate biophysical processes depending on each
other, and also how they, throughout the earth's history, have been
CO2 emissions come mainly from the combustion of fossil fuels,
which also affects two of the other proposed nine boundaries: the
nitrogen cycle and ocean acidication. The nitrogen cycle boundary
is affected by the combustion of fossil fuels where N2 is turned into
more reactive oxidised forms. Acidication of the oceans is affected
by the dissolution of CO2 and the effect of this, together with


increasing temperatures, can already be seen on coral reefs. In one

paper about acidication of the oceans, it is argued that reducing
the atmospheric CO2 level to 350 ppm seems like the rational
target. Stabilising at 450 ppm by 2100, as some have suggested,
could perhaps cause an additional pH decline by 0.1, but even that
number could doom coral reefs and make it impossible for some
animals to build shells, especially in the Southern Ocean (Hardt and
Sana, 2010). As long as atmospheric CO2 concentration is
increasing, there is a net uptake of carbon by the ocean, driven by
the atmosphere-ocean difference in partial pressure of CO2. The
quantitative effects of an increasing CO2 concentration are difcult
to foresee because of other processes like reduced buffering capacity of the carbonate system and the rate of mixing between deep
water and surface water. What is new over the last decade is that
we know with increasing certainty that climate change is
happening. This is pointed out in the IPCC reports (IPCC, 2007,
2013), and many other scientic studies, e.g. a report from the
Third National Climate Assessment of the US Global Change
Research Program (Melillo et al., 2014).
Existing concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere is a result of a
cumulative effect. In order to reach 350 ppm, we will have not only
to reduce on-going emissions of CO2 to zero in the near future, but
also remove CO2 from the atmosphere and store it in some carbon
sink. In this regard, there is increasing hope that carbon sequestration could be a technique to bridge the gap to more long-term
sustainable energy solutions. In the latest IPCC report, it is stated
there is high condence that neither adaptation nor mitigation
alone can avoid all climate change impacts (IPCC, 2013).
Carbon sequestration involves taking CO2 out of the atmosphere
for shorter or longer time period in order to decrease the effects of
carbon emissions on climate change. In this paper, the term
emissions is taken to refer to emissions from anthropogenic,
rather than natural, sources. The term sequestration is used here
as a concept for carbon sinks, which could be natural or anthropogenic. Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) is used for industrial
processes that separates CO2 close to the emission sources (IPCC,
The starting point for the reasoning in this paper is that we
should strive to keep the atmospheric concentration of CO2 below
350 ppm. This goal should be reached within this century. It is
important then to clarify the magnitude of our emissions and
realistic roles for different mitigation options in the short and long
term, regardless of current political opinions. This paper will review
the situation for CO2 emissions and carbon sequestration in general
and more specically CCS in the world, focussing on the largest
emitters in relation to achieving a goal of maximum 350 ppm CO2
in the atmosphere. It will also discuss CCS in relation to other
mitigation options. The paper will analyse in more detail some of
the main barriers for CCS: technical, economic, political and social,
all of which are intertwined. One of the important social barriers is
public acceptance, which is very much connected to potential risks
with the storage of CO2. The paper will discuss how these risks
should be handled and communicated to the public in order to
make CCS a credible and accepted technology, which could be
developed into full-scale applications.
This study is mainly based on literature review, and the sources
include peer-reviewed articles and other sources, such as governmental websites and reports from international organisations. It
has been noted that different sources may have different level of
reliability, and in these cases triangulation has been used, i.e.
several sources have been used (Stake, 1995). To ensure the overall
relevance of the study and also as part of the triangulation, many
international experts have been contacted to clarify the statements
from non-peer reviewed sources, such as journal interviews and
information organisations. The discussion and conclusions around


R. Wennersten et al. / Journal of Cleaner Production 103 (2015) 724e736

risk assessment of CCS is partly based on extensive research and

practical experience that the authors have in related areas. This is,
for instance, from the Seveso Directive, which is the main piece of
EU legislation specically dealing with the control of the hazards
resulting from major on-shore accidents. Many important conclusions have been drawn from these experiences, and further applied
to this study.

2. How big is the problem with CO2 emissions in quantitative

2.1. The present global situation concerning CO2 emissions e
increasing concentrations
Aiming at keeping the global concentration of CO2 under
350 ppm, we can start to think about viable options to achieve this
goal from the current starting point. A central question then is:
what is the order of magnitude of carbon dioxide that we have to
mitigate in the foreseeable future to reach the goal? As we have
already passed 350 ppm, we have to accept overshooting the target
as a given and required option for reduction later on. Let us start by
looking at the gures we are facing in order to understand the role
that different mitigation options can play. In the summary report
for policymakers, the IPCC concludes (IPCC, 2013) (Figures in
brackets are uncertainty intervals):
 CO2 emissions from fossil fuel combustion and cement production were 8.3 [7.6e9.0] GtC/year averaged over 2002e2011
(high condence) and were 9.5 [8.7e10.3] GtC/year in 2011, 54%
above the 1990 level. Annual net CO2 emissions from anthropogenic land use change were 0.9 [0.1e1.7] GtC/year on an
average during 2002e2011 (medium condence).
 From 1750 to 2011, CO2 emissions from fossil fuel combustion
and cement production have released 375 [345e405] GtC to the
atmosphere, while deforestation and other land use change are
estimated to have released 180 [100e260] GtC. This results in
cumulative anthropogenic emissions of 555 [470e640] GtC.
 Of these cumulative anthropogenic CO2 emissions, 240
[230e250] GtC have accumulated in the atmosphere, 155
[125e185] GtC have been taken up by the ocean and 160
[70e250] GtC have accumulated in natural terrestrial ecosystems (i.e., the cumulative residual land sink).
 IPCC further concludes that ocean uptake of anthropogenic CO2
will continue under all four Representative Concentration
Pathway (RCP) scenarios through to 2100, with higher uptake
for higher concentration pathways (very high condence). The
future evolution of the land carbon uptake is less certain. A
majority of models projects a continued land carbon uptake
under all RCPs, but some models simulate a land carbon loss due
to the combined effect of climate change and land use change.
To conclude, CO2 concentrations have increased by 40% since
pre-industrial times, primarily from combustion of fossil fuels and
secondarily from net land use change. The ocean has absorbed
about 30% of the emitted anthropogenic carbon dioxide, causing
increased ocean acidication.
We are thus facing a situation, where around 240 GtC of our CO2
emissions have already accumulated in the atmosphere and we
continue to release around 10 GtC every year (IPCC, 2011). The great
challenge we are facing is thus that, in order to reduce the concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere to below 350 ppm, we have to
not only reduce the on-going emissions of around 10 GtC/year but
also remove a huge amount of CO2 from the already accumulated
240 GtC in the atmosphere.

2.2. The present global situation concerning energy demand e

increasing use of fossil fuels
Let us now continue to look at the present situation of the
world's energy demand (Fig. 1).
Fossil fuels today represent around 85% of the global primary
energy demand. The trend is that fossil fuels e oil, coal and natural
gas e will continue to meet most of the world's energy needs in the
foreseeable future (IEA, 2012b). Fossil fuels will remain the dominant source of energy through to 2035 in all IEA scenarios, although
their respective share in the mix in 2035 varies markedly. It is no
table that renewables, except hydro and bioenergy, still meet less
than 1% of the total primary energy demand. Their share is expected to rise, but in absolute gures the amount of fossil fuels will
also increase, and therefore related CO2 emissions. There is nothing
in the on-going trends that contradicts this conclusion, although
there are of course a lot of uncertainties, mainly political, regarding
fossil fuels as pointed out in the World Energy Outlook 2012 (IEA,
2012b). However, the belief that renewables like solar and wind
energy can play a central role to reduce GHG emissions just does
not seem realistic. The strong global demand for fossil fuels is
inuential in international relations, where conicts can suddenly
change the arena. This can already be seen in developments in the
Middle East, Northern Africa and Eastern Europe, and in more
recent crisis in Ukraine. A global economic crisis and/or conicts
escalating to war could suddenly decrease GHG emissions. This is,
however, a mitigation option, which no one would wish for.
2.3. The future for the biggest CO2 emitters
The future situation concerning CO2 emissions will be determined very much by actions from the biggest emitters. Table 1
shows the situation in 2011 of the six biggest CO2 emitters, which
represents nearly 70% of global emissions (IEA, 2013). The trends
for these emissions are discussed in more detail below. Note that
the gures in the table are given as emissions of CO2, not recalculated into emissions of carbon.
In their central scenario, New Policies Scenario for 2035, the IEA
has taken into account broad policy commitments and plans that
have already been implemented to address energy-related challenges, as well as those that have been announced, where specic
measures to implement these commitments have yet to be introduced. In the IEA scenario, global primary energy demand rises by
over one-third in the period to 2035 and energy-related CO2
emissions rise from 31.2 Gt in 2011 to 37.0 Gt in 2035.
The United States currently relies on imports for around 20% of
its primary energy demand, but rising production of oil, shale gas
and bioenergy means that it is due to become all but self-sufcient
in net-terms by 2035. This will probably lead to the USA becoming a
net exporter of coal, as it is the second largest producer in the
world. The overall energy demand in the USA will be stable up to
2035, and CO2 emissions are expected to drop slightly from its
highest level due to increased efciency.
In the IEA scenario for Russia, primary energy demand expands
by 23% up until 2035 at an average growth rate of 0.8% per year.
Russia remains among the world's highest per-capita energy consumers, mainly due to its cold climate, heavy reliance on energy
intensive activities and relatively inefcient, although improving,
energy production and consumption practices. Fossil fuels, particularly natural gas, remain dominant in Russia's domestic energy
mix, with a share of 86% by 2035, and CO2 emissions are expected to
go up slightly.
Japan withdrew from their earlier statements about CO2 reductions at the Warsaw meeting 2013. This can partly be explained
by the reduction of nuclear power after the Fukushima accident.

R. Wennersten et al. / Journal of Cleaner Production 103 (2015) 724e736


Fig. 1. Shares of energy sources in total global primary energy supply in 2008 (492 EJ).
Source: IPCC (2011).

Total primary energy demand for Japan declines in the IEA scenario
by 10% between 2010 and 2035, and CO2 emissions is expected to
drop slightly.
China and India are expected to signicantly raise their use of
fossil fuels and therefore CO2 emissions will rise considerably, as
can be seen in Fig. 2. China accounts for the largest share of the
projected growth in global energy use, its demand rising by 60% by
2035, followed by India, where demand more than doubles, and the
Middle East.
Both China and India are going through a remarkable phase of
economic development, which is partly based on cheap energy,
mainly coal. The challenge is to balance between economic growth
and social development on one side, and environmental degradation and growing inequity on the other side. Economic growth is
essential for maintaining social stability. According to three
different scenarios developed for China, i.e. BAU, Low-Carbon and
Enhanced Low carbon, the use of coal and emissions of CO2 will
increase in near future in all the scenarios (Jiang et al., 2009). China
is the biggest producer of PV cells in the world. However, even in
the most optimistic scenario, solar electricity energy will represent
only 2.1% of coal energy by 2050. Both India and China have
abundant coal resources, and the availability of coal on the international market is expected to grow when unconventional gas resources are exploited. It is difcult to believe that these countries

Table 1
Emissions for the six largest CO2 emitters in 2011 (emissions from fuel combustion).

CO2 emission per

capita (tonnes of CO2)

Total CO2 emission

(million tonnes of CO2)

Russian Federation



Germany had the largest emissions in the EU-27 countries, while Luxembourg
had the least. However, the per capita CO2 emissions in Luxembourg were the
highest in 2011 in EU-27.
Source: IEA, 2013.

should leave their resources underground when rich countries like

Norway and USA explore their fossil fuel resources at a fast pace.
We can thus foresee a global increase in the use of fossil fuels
with the biggest share attributable to the developing countries,
partly due to economic development and partly due to population
increase. According to the 2012 Revision of the ofcial United Nations population estimates and projections, the world population of
7.2 billion in mid-2013 is projected to increase by almost one billion
within the next twelve years, reaching 8.1 billion by 2025, and to
further increase to 9.6 billion by 2050 and 10.9 billion by 2100.
Growth is expected to be particularly dramatic in the least developed countries in the world, where populations are projected to
double in size from 898 million in 2013 to 1.8 billion by 2050 and to
2.9 billion by 2100 (United Nations, 2014).

3. What are our realistic options for tackling increasing CO2

From the above discussions, it is obvious that, in the absence of
binding global agreements for drastic reduction in CO2 emissions,
the combination of fast developing economies in the developing
countries, especially China and India, together with an increasing
world population will, with high probability, increase the total
consumption of fossil fuels and therefore also increase CO2 emissions in the foreseeable future. If we want to stick to keeping the
CO2 concentration below 350 ppm, what are realistic options to
meet this goal in the short and long run?
The options are largely as follows:
 Lowering the per capita emission through global equal share
systems. This option seems highly unrealistic. If we set a target
of lowering the global emissions from 8 GtC/year to 2 GtC/year,
with a projected world population of 10 billion, it would require
that all of these people have to reduce their individual emission
to only 3% of the level in the United States today (Lackner, 2003).
 According to the Efcient World Scenario developed by the IEA,
signicant reduction in fossil fuels can be achieved through the
implementation of energy efciency measures that are already
economically viable. The growth in global primary energy demand by 2035 would be halved, but would require


R. Wennersten et al. / Journal of Cleaner Production 103 (2015) 724e736

Fig. 2. Share of China and India in net increase in global primary energy demand and CO2 emissions in the IEA New Policies Scenario, 2010e2035.
Source: IEA (2012b).

implementation of new business models and lower subsidiaries

for fossil fuels, especially in developing countries (IEA, 2012b).
Shortage of fossil fuels will hardly affect the situation. Existing
fossil fuel resources exceed 5000 GtC and new resources in the
form of unconventional gas is likely to be developed (Lackner,
2003), and this gure should be compared to the expected total consumption of around 10 GtC/year.
The social acceptability of the development of nuclear power
suffered a major setback after the Fukushima accident. In the
most radical low carbon scenario for China, nuclear energy could
reach no more than 23% of fossil fuel energy by 2050 (Jiang et al.,
2009). However, the use of coal would still increase.
The development of renewable energy sources like wind, solar
and wave will continue, but according to most scenarios,
renewable energy will have a marginal effect on emissions as
long as the present development is going on and the cost for
emitting CO2 is not drastically raised on a global level.
The further expansion of hydropower will be linked to larger
social and environmental problems, which will reduce the potential for this option. Large-scale hydropower dams always
involve social conict. We can also foresee stricter environmental considerations regarding new hydropower installations.
For example, a new governmental proposal suggests that hydropower and dams in Sweden should be reviewed under the
Environment Act, in order to adapt Swedish legislation to
conform to EU law. The main result will be that the hydropower
companies have to bypass water at the power stations in order
to create streaming water all year around to increase biodiversity. This will decrease the net output of electricity from the
power stations.
The hope that terrestrial eco-systems will continue to act as an
important carbon sink is highly uncertain. The net effect taking
into account changes in land use is maximum 2 GtC/year.
Ocean uptake of CO2 will increase with increasing CO2 concentration but would have a signicant negative effect on marine
biodiversity through acidication, and should therefore be
The increased use of bioenergy in connection to CCS, which will
be discussed further in this paper, can affect the carbon balance.
However, calculations of available land for producing bioenergy
as well as net-uptakes of CO2 are probably very much overestimated in many calculations.
Carbon sequestration in the form of Carbon Capture and Storage
(CCS), that is, taking CO2 out of the carbon cycle and storing it.

Based on the above, it is difcult to not to conclude that in order

to keep the atmospheric concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere
below 350 ppm, carbon sequestration in some form must play a
signicant role among the mitigation options. If however carbon
sequestration is adopted, it must operate on a multi-terawatt scale
in order to sequester almost all produced CO2. It must also be safe,
stable and environmentally acceptable.

4. Can carbon sequestration play an important role in the

solution for mitigation of CO2?
4.1. What is carbon sequestration and what can it achieve?
Carbon sequestration is in a wide sense the process of capture
and long-term storage of atmospheric CO2. There are natural processes going on, where CO2 is captured from the atmosphere
through biological, chemical or physical processes. Anthropogenic
sequestration techniques sometimes exploit these natural processes, while some use entirely articial processes or a combination
of both. Examples of natural processes are photosynthesis, chemical weathering of rocks and dissolution of CO2 in the oceans. The
articial processes like CCS involve techniques for capturing CO2
from ambient air or at source, e.g. power plants, and then storing
the CO2 in reservoirs, which will be discussed later on.
In order to stabilise the CO2 concentration in the atmosphere at
present levels, we have to create carbon neutrality in our activities,
meaning no net ow of CO2 into the atmosphere. Furthermore, in
order to reach the proposed planetary boundary of 350 ppm, we
must obtain negative carbon ows from the atmosphere into carbon sinks. Carbon neutrality, as well as CO2 neutrality, has been
used as a rather loosely dened concept regarding solutions to
tackle the problem of CO2 emissions. The term climate neutrality
involves the broader inclusiveness of other GHGs, but CO2 is the
most abundant one. The concepts are merely used to popularise
projects aimed at tackling CO2 emissions often on city or company
levels. However, any discussion related to these concepts involves a
morass of hidden assumptions, questionable system boundaries,
and pure and wishful thinking. All of the concepts include ideas
around carbon sequestration, but in different ways. In the Guidebook Kick the Habit published by UNEP, the basic idea is to reduce
your own GHG emissions as much as possible, and then use
sequestration to offset the remaining emissions (UNECE, 2011). This
means that for activities where it is difcult to reduce CO2 emissions, like ights, offsets should be bought to compensate, which is

R. Wennersten et al. / Journal of Cleaner Production 103 (2015) 724e736

sometimes in evidence today. The basic question is, do these offsets

really compensate for the emissions in a sustainable way?
Principal solutions for carbon sequestration include:
1. Rely on natural processes like dissolving CO2 in the oceans.
This is not a strong option, since it increases acidication of the
oceans as was discussed above. With increasing CO2 concentrations
and global warming, the net uptake of CO2 in the oceans will also
2. Capture CO2 in biomass, which is used for energy production, or
stored in different forms.
Biomass can be forests, crops and algae (Sayre, 2010). These can
be used as biofuels, food or turned into charcoal, which is mixed
with soil (Seifritz, 1993). However, biomass sequestration and CO2
utilisation are marginal for balancing the carbon budget (Lackner,
3. Carbon captured at emission sources, or from air, and stored in
geological formations on land or in the ocean oors, referred
here to as Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS).

4.2. CCS technologies e an overview

Carbon dioxide capture and storage (CCS) is a process consisting
of the separation of CO2 from industrial and energy-related sources,
transportation to a storage location, and long-term isolation from
the atmosphere. The majority of CO2 emissions come from burning
fossil fuels, most of it from power and heat production and other
industrial activities, e.g. iron and steel production, cement making,
natural gas processing and petroleum rening. Electricity sourced
from fossil fuels accounts for more than 40 per cent of the world's
energy related CO2 emissions (IEA, 2012a).
CO2 emissions from biomass conversion can also be captured. If
that is done, biomass energy with CO2 capture and storage (BECCS)
would become a technology that removes CO2 from the atmosphere and at the same time delivers CO2-neutral energy carriers,
e.g. heat, electricity or hydrogen to society. It is an emerging
technology that has the potential to go beyond traditional climate
change mitigation, and instead actually achieve negative emissions,
i.e. net removal of CO2 from the atmosphere (Azar et al., 2013).
However, many estimates of global availability of biomass are built
on unreliable simplications, which can seriously affect the results
(Azar et al., 2013). The perception that biomass from growing plants
like forests used for combustion is a carbon-neutral process is a
simplication with great uncertainties (Magnani et al., 2007).
Depending on the type of forestry, it can often be a negative balance
for carbon uptake during a long period after replantation. It is also
recognised that storms, which can worsen with climate change,
affect the carbon balance signicantly in a negative way (Lindroth
et al., 2009). Recent studies have also shown there are early signs
of saturation of some types of forests (Nabuurs et al., 2013).
Therefore, it can be concluded that practical availability of global
biomass resources would limit the practical use of the technology
BECCS, when it comes to replacing fossil fuels.
Several CCS technologies have been developed to handle CO2 at
emission sources, e.g. coal and natural gas power plants, oil and gas
plants, steel mills and cement plants (Wilcox, 2012). In this study,
we mainly focus on the storage of CO2, since this part involves the
largest uncertainties and controversies. The principal operation of
storage is that CO2 is injected into deep underground rock formations, often at depths of one kilometre or more. This can be done on


land or under water in the seabed. Injection of large quantities of

CO2 has been used over several decades in relation to Enhanced Oil
Recovery (EOR). The Global CCS Institute reports that there are
around 65 large-scale integrated CCS projects currently active in
the world (The Global CCS Institute, 2014). These projects are
dened as those that involve the capture, transport and storage of
CO2 at a scale of:
 at least 800,000 tonnes of CO2 annually for a coal-based power
plant, or
 at least 400,000 tonnes of CO2 annually for other emissionintensive industrial facilities, including natural gas-based power generation.
Many of these projects are connected to EOR. Projects that are
pure CCS projects are mainly operating on a pilot or demonstration
scale. The world's rst BECCS project is situated in Illinois, the
United States. The rst tonne of carbon dioxide was sequestered
there on November 4, 2011, after years of preparation and construction. Presently, carbon dioxide is stored into this facility at a
rate of 300,000 tonnes per year, but this gure will be augmented
to reach 1 million tonnes per year. The project is mainly nanced by
the US Department of Energy. Without an additional injection of
funds, this project will terminate in 2016.
4.3. What are the strategies for CCS in the major emitting
Development of CCS technology is going on in many of the large
emitting countries and regions. The focus is very much on technology development in order to reduce costs and to identify storage
capacity. CCS in connection with EOR has been developing for more
than 20 years.
4.3.1. United States
The United States has 23 large-scale CCS projects in operation or
in various stages of development e the greatest amount for any
country or region. It has also been a leader in CCS related research,
development and demonstration (RD&D). The Department of Energy has created a network of seven Regional Carbon Sequestration
Partnerships (RCSPs) to help develop the technology, infrastructure,
and regulations to implement large-scale CO2 sequestration in
different regions and geologic formations within the country.
Several EOR plants are operating and also several small CCS plants.
4.3.2. Russia
Russia is mainly working with the development of CCS technology on smaller scales. It was decided not to aim for rapid
implementation of currently available systems, but to wait for more
advanced and economically attractive solutions of CCS.
4.3.3. Japan
Japan is also developing CCS technologies on smaller scale applications. An underground storage demonstration project was
conducted in Nagaoka City from 2002 to 2008. Another 10-year
demonstration project was launched in Tomakomai City in 2012.
Japan CCS Co., Ltd. is also implementing a project that aims to store
CO2 in a sub-seabed geological formation. The CO2 will be separated
and captured from hydrogen production equipment at oil reneries. This project will for the rst time demonstrate a complete
CCS system in Japan. Japan has approved the storage of CO2 in ocean
beds. They have also issued a guideline for the safe operation of CCS
demonstration projects (METI, 2009).


R. Wennersten et al. / Journal of Cleaner Production 103 (2015) 724e736

4.3.4. European Union

In Europe CCS is now experiencing somewhat of a backward
step due to the downturn in the economy. The EU parliament has
proposed binding targets to be divided among the Member States
according to ability to full: emissions reductions of 40%, 30%
renewable energy and a goal for energy efciency improvements of
40% by 2030. The European Commission has launched NER300, one
of the world's largest funding programmes for innovative lowcarbon energy demonstration projects. The programme was
conceived as a catalyst for the demonstration of environmentally
safe CCS and innovative renewable energy (RES) technologies on a
commercial scale within the European Union. However, no projects
have been accepted within the programme up until now, and only
one application from the UK is awaiting assessment (personal
communication with Pierre Schellekens).
In 2005, the Swedish energy company Vattenfall decided to
build a 30 MW Oxyfuel CCS pilot plant. The plant is located near
the existing lignite-red 1600 MW power plant in Schwarze
Pumpe, Germany. Operation at the pilot plant started in mid-2008.
It was planned to operate the plant for at least 10 years. The
further plan was to build a full-scale plant at the company's other
lignite-red plants in J
anschwalde, Germany. Due to uncertainties
in German legislation on CO2 storage, this plan has now been
scrapped. In an interview, Judith Shapiro at the Global CCS Institute divulged that their planned six CCS projects have been put on
ice. This is for reasons down to a combination of politics and the
economy (Swedish Radio, 2014). The Labour leader Ed Miliband
said: If Labour wins the next election, we will freeze energy
prices until 2017 (The Guardian, 2013). According to energy
companies, this will kill investment in new energy technologies.
The Norwegian Government has put a stop to the planned largescale Norwegian agship CCS plant in Mongstad, citing too high
costs as the reason.

4.3.5. China
China has one of the largest numbers of CCS pilot projects in the
world and some of these projects are currently in operation. With
the experience and condence gained from implementing these
pilot projects, there has been signicant growth in the number of
large-scale fully integrated projects (LSIP) being proposed. As at
May 2012, the Global CCS Institute recorded six LSIPs in China and
this number is expected to increase. Most of the proposed LSIPs are
driven by major state-owned power generation, coal and oil companies, and many also involve major international partners who are
able to bring their experience and expertise to the projects. The use
of CO2 for EOR has been practised in China since 2006, and a majority of the proposed LSIPs are considering EOR as their preferred
storage option.
In addition, some important barriers for large-scale implementation of CCS in China have been identied (The Climate Group,
 Increase in energy consumption
Carbon capture, utilisation and storage (CCUS) may increase
energy consumption by 24e40% in modern coal-based power

 Location and transportation

The sources of CO2 are generally located in the eastern part of
China, while the places of storage are in the west.
 Lack of means of CO2 utilisation
Utilisation of CO2 plays an important role in the whole chain of
CCUS, but the total market demand of CO2 is still unknown.
 Insufcient funding

4.3.6. India
CCS is not currently a priority for the Indian Government,
because, whilst a signatory to the UNFCCC and Kyoto Protocol, there
are no absolute amount-based GHG emission reduction targets in
existence and most commentators do not envisage compulsory
targets for India in the near future. India views CCS as a front-end
technology that has to be developed more (Shackley and Verma,
To conclude, the technology for CCS has been proven feasible in
many projects internationally, but this is still mainly on pilot or
demonstration scales with the exception of EOR. The main barriers
to the establishment of larger scale projects are economic and
political uncertainties and public acceptance of the technology,
especially storage of CO2. As long as there are no binding obligations or imposed high costs for emitting CO2, companies and nations will hesitate to go for large-scale investments in CCS.
4.4. What is the attitude from different stakeholders towards CCS?
For many stakeholders, CCS is still a rather unknown technology,
which is a barrier for broader discussion of large-scale implementation. Below are some results from investigations into attitudes towards CCS from several stakeholder groups.
4.4.1. Experts
The general opinion from experts is that assessment of risk is
vital to the success of any CCS project. In one study, where two
distinct geological storage sites were assessed, it was shown that
for the majority of areas of potential risk, experts perceived the
level of risk to be moderate or low (Polson et al., 2012). Where
perception of risk was high, uncertainty about key information
tended to be an important inuence. The study thus shows that, for
experts, it is important to have data that reduces uncertainties
around the risk of leakages. Experts are however aware of the facts
that the uncertainties can never be reduced to zero. By careful selection of data acquisition activities and explicitly considering areas
of high risk, uncertainty can be reduced in key areas at an early
stage using relatively inexpensive techniques. This allows decisions
to be made on the potential suitability of a site for storage, and on
the value of investing in more expensive, but more detailed site
evaluation (Polson et al., 2012). In a Spanish study, experts showed
a positive attitude towards CCS implementation. Despite some
concerns over suitability of storage sites, safety of storage and cost
of capture, CCS is supported as a bridging solution to climate
change and has a low level of perceived risks (Sala and Oltra, 2011).

 Costs for CCS

For example, the cost for CCS in Beijing Thermal Power Plant
(Huaneng GreenGen IGCC) is 170 RMB/tonne, which increases the
cost of electricity generation by 0.16 RMB/kWh.

4.4.2. Policy stakeholders

In a US study, energy policy stakeholders' perceptions of CCS in
four geographically and demographically diverse states were
accessed. Negative associations of CCS were mentioned more

R. Wennersten et al. / Journal of Cleaner Production 103 (2015) 724e736

frequently than positive attributes in each state, and technical,

political and economic risks were more dominant than environmental or health and safety risks (Chaudhry et al., 2013).
4.4.3. NGOs
The environmental Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs)
worldwide have adopted various positions regarding CCS. Their
standpoints range from seeing CCS as one of several important
solutions, being open to its potential, via having no standpoint, to
strong opposition and even actively working against it (Zero
Emission Resource Organisation, 2014). One organisation strongly
opposing CCS is Greenpeace, which claims that the technology is
unproven, risky and expensive. They suggest that investing in CCS
undermines the range of clean energy solutions that are available
right now, and that it will not be ready in time. In addition, they
argue, large-scale CCS applications pose signicant and new liability risks, including negative impacts on human health, damage to
ecosystems, groundwater contamination such as the pollution of
drinking water and increased GHG emissions from leakage (Zero
Emission Resource Organisation, 2014). One problem with the arguments from Greenpeace is that they tend to repeat necessary
actions without taking reality and the strong driving forces into
account. In the report The Carbon Logic, they conclude that coal
has to be phased out rapidly and that there should be no exploration of unconventional oil and gas reserves (Hare, 1997). They also
tend to overestimate how fast renewable energy can replace fossil
4.4.4. Public
In a study among students in Germany, it was shown that the
attitude towards CCS was neutral. Moreover, it was shown that in
the acceptance of CCS, an important factor is the willingness to pay.
The level of willingness to pay for CCS technology was much lower
st, 2012).
for CCS than for renewable energy (Kraeusel and Mo
In several Dutch studies, it was found that public awareness of
CCS was quite low and that it had not increased between 2004 and
2008. The study also revealed that a very substantial part of the
Dutch general public does not understand the relationship between
current energy use and climate change (de Best-Waldhober and
Daamen, 2011; de Best-Waldhober et al., 2011).
In the EU ACCEPT project (2006e2007), social acceptability
among both the public and stakeholders was analysed. The majority of the ACCEPT stakeholders were moderately supportive of
CCS and believed that it had a role to play in climate change mitigation. Environmental NGO respondents were much more concerned about the risks associated with CCS and the implications on
renewable energy than the energy industry and governmental
stakeholders. In this study, the RD&D budgets of a number of EU
countries active in CCS research were also examined, and no evidence was found that resources were being diverted away from
renewables to CCS. However, it is fair to comment that this effect
might not have been detected, since it is only in the last few years
that CCS has begun to attract moderate to large funding (Shackley
et al., 2009).
One comparative study of public attitudes was carried out in the
United States, the United Kingdom, Sweden and Japan covering key
questions about energy and the environment, with a particular
emphasis on attitudes towards CCS (Reiner et al., 2006). This study
found low levels of awareness, recognition or understanding of CCS,
and mixed views of how CCS might t within a broader portfolio of
energy technologies or as part of a national climate change policy.
In a study in the US, the psychometric theory of public risk
perception was used to postulate how the public is likely to respond
to efforts to use geologic storage of CO2, a component of the CCS
architecture. It was concluded that the risks of geologic storage are


eventually likely to be considered no worse than existing fossil fuel

energy technologies. However, since geologic storage of CO2 is a
new technology with little operational experience, additional eld
tests and a demonstrable ability to mitigate problems would be
necessary to improve the public's condence in CCS technologies
(Singleton et al., 2009).
To conclude, CCS is still quite an unknown technology for many
stakeholders. In order to develop large-scale applications of CCS,
there will be a need for a transparent communication process about
their costs, safety and the relationship to other mitigation options
like renewables.
5. Is CCS a socially acceptable and credible technology for
GHG mitigation?
5.1. What has to be fullled for CCS to be feasible?
The conclusion from the analysis above is that in order to stabilise the CO2 concentration in the atmosphere at a level of
350 ppm during this century and to avoid further accumulation of
CO2, it is inevitable that CCS has to be applied on a large-scale
together with other mitigation options. In isolation, none of these
mitigation options can solve the problem. However, there are
several criteria that need to be met in order for CCS technology to
be applied successfully. It has to be economically feasible, technically feasible, and last but not least, socially acceptable. Each of
these areas requires open and transparent discussion among all
stakeholders in society.
5.2. Is CCS economically feasible?
Economically, CCS is still expensive compared with doing
nothing, i.e. to continue to emit CO2 at no or very low cost. The
uncertainty about future regulations concerning costs imposed for
emitting CO2 is probably one of the main barriers towards largescale implementation of CCS. No single company or nation wants
to be the pioneer, if others are holding back. CCS has been found to
be economically attractive within the range of domestic and international carbon policies. Current mitigation costs using CCS are
about $200 to $250 per tonne of carbon, although these costs are
sensitive to fuel prices and other assumptions (Anderson and
Newell, 2003). In the nal report of UK CCS Cost Reduction Task
force, it is estimated that costs for CCS installations can be reduced
signicantly when the technology get more mature through largescale applications (UK CCS Cost Reduction Task Force, 2013). It is
also important to develop comparable cost estimations with other
mitigation options like renewables. However, comparisons of
mitigation options are heavily distorted because of different subsidies. In addition, economic risks associated with storage also
relate to how future leakage of CO2 storage will affect the benets of
a plant with CCS technology.
Chao and Chen (2006) summarise the costs for the main components of CCS, i.e. capture, transportation, storage and follow-up,
in China. The total cost for CCS ranges from 5.7 to 131.3 USD per
tonne of CO2, in which over 87% of the total cost is for CO2 capture
and less than 13% for transportation, storage and follow-up. In
contrast, the average price of CO2 in the global carbon market was
17.12 USD per tonne of CO2 in 2011, a little lower than the 2010
level, i.e. 18.15 USD.
5.3. Is CCS technically feasible?
Signicant progress has been made to launch large-scale CCS
demonstration facilities across the globe, with some 80 large-scale
integrated demonstration projects identied (Lipponen et al.,


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2011). Having been in operation for many years, especially in EOR

processes, CCS has been proven technically feasible at different
scales using different technologies (Wilcox, 2012). Depending on
the circumstances at emission sources, local regulations and conditions at the specic storage places, several technologies will
probably be developed further for large-scale applications. The
limitation of large-scale CCS plants are therefore not technical, but
mainly economic and social. Due to the great cost for installation
and operation, and a lower level of energy output from power
plants using CCS, the costs for emitting CO2 must be raised
considerably in order to reach a comparable level to CCS. On the
social side, the barrier is related to the storage of CO2, which is still
far from being widely accepted by the public. This has also led to
uncertainties about political decisions regarding large-scale storage
of CO2.
5.4. Is CCS socially acceptable?
One big uncertainty hindering investment in CCS remains to be
uncertain national regulations about storage. Politicians feel uncomfortable in taking decisions when the safety issue is unresolved.
With the scale of projects, in terms of number and injected CO2
volume, needed to achieve the necessary reduction in atmospheric
CO2 emissions, success of this mitigation option will require a
relatively straightforward authorisation process (Stenhouse et al.,
2009). If CCS is to be adopted as a large-scale CO2 mitigation
strategy, it is important to understand the associated risks and to be
able to communicate these risks to a wider public. Failure to do so
at an early stage of a project, has already proven a major barrier for
implementation of CCS (Feenstra et al., 2010). However, the associated risks, as well as risk communication, have not been fully
considered in CCS evaluation especially in countries where public
inuence on policies is still weak (Minchener, 2014). The safety
aspects are related to potential health and ecological effects, which
is very much dependent on what technology is used and where CO2
is stored. The risk of leakage of CO2 to the atmosphere, thus jeopardising the whole concept of CCS, is probably low. What we can
say with condence is that emitting CO2 at source results in a 100%
certainty of leakage to the atmosphere, while CO2 storage in
geological formations carries much lower risks of leakage. Leakage
probabilities, as well as ecological impacts of CCS, have been
studied and reported in several papers (Koornneef et al., 2012;
Polson et al., 2012; Smith et al., 2011). In order to get public
acceptance for CCS, the potential effects of possible leaks on public
health is probably the most relevant issue for risk estimation and
communication. The main risk is connected to big leaks that can
cause suffocation due to lack of oxygen in the air.
6. How should health risks with CCS be assessed and
The methods for risk assessment of CCS presented in different
publications are in line with conventional methods used for other
industrial installations. Several researchers apply different probabilistic approaches to risks in relation to CCS (Gerstenberger et al.,
2009). There are papers that question the use of quantitative risk
assessment methods at this point because of a lack of specic data.
In contrast, more semi-quantitative approaches, e.g. multi-criteria
decision analysis, are also used to evaluate different options
(Santoyo-Castelazo and Azapagic, 2014). However, this method
involve a large amount of subjective values when choosing and
weighting criteria, and this makes it very difcult to communicate
with the public. The development of frameworks and qualitative
methods might be the most trustworthy for current projects
(Condor et al., 2011). Many initiatives have been created in order to

develop more scientic approaches to risk assessment of CCS. IEA

established a Risk Assessment Network, which provides a valuable
forum for exchanging information on all aspects of risk assessment,
and for identifying areas where information/data is lacking
(IEAGHG, 2014).
However, it is not only lack of data that will be the main barrier,
when it comes to evaluation and communication of risks connected
to CCS. The truth is there will never be enough data. A large part of
the problem is the need to bridge the gap between industry and
experts on one hand, and policymakers, the media and the public
on the other hand. In order to get wider acceptance for CCS, it is
important to learn from the vast experience of practical applications of risk evaluation techniques, and how results can be used in
risk communication and what problems can arise. The problem
with evaluating risks connected to CO2 storage is quite similar to
that associated with storage of nuclear fuel waste and how this
waste will nally be deposited in underground geological formations. Much can be learnt from that process when it comes to risk
management. One would believe that this problem could be solved
by the reduction of scientic uncertainties, e.g. by obtaining more
data and communicating these facts to the public, but that is a great
simplication. Different stakeholders simply have different perceptions of risk and that has to be taken into account when
communicating CCS risks. No stakeholder can claim the sole right
to evaluate the risks, because risk evaluation involves values. The
rst lesson we can learn from the debate on nuclear fuel waste is
that we will never reach a consensus about scientic facts. In
Sweden, the scientic debate has been going on for years about
whether or not cupper canisters, where the fuel is enclosed, will
corrode in the long run or not (Latanision et al., 2010). Partially this
is a problem about time scale and partially about dening the
physical and chemical surroundings for the canisters stored deep
underground in rock formations. This problem, as well as that of
leakage of CO2 from storage, cannot be solved with 100% certainty
by science. The role of science is to decrease our ignorance about
the problem and also to communicate the uncertainties openly.
Uncertainties always create huge problems around communication
of risks to the public. If communication is carried out by the media,
governmental institutions or by industry involved in the CCS
business, it is essential to understand how this communication is
affecting the public. It rst raises the question of whom the public
trust and how the public perceive risks. Successful risk communication must be based on trust. Earlier studies on public support for
new technologies like Genetically Modied Organisms have shown
that evaluators, scientists and universities are the most trusted in
the communication process (Lang and Hallman, 2005). One answer
as to why the public place a greater trust in scientists might be that
as a group, they never unanimously agree, which might imply that
they are honest. Environmental organisations and media sources
are moderately trusted. Industry and others with economic interests are the least trusted. The lack of trust in the organisations
with resource and responsibility for ensuring safety should be seen
as an important obstacle to the adoption of the technology. It is
obvious that organisations like The Global CCS Institute will not be
regarded as objective, even if they claim that they are an independent, not-for-prot organisation. The role of independent
evaluators is crucial and trust in them totally depends on whether
these evaluators are perceived as independent or not. In China, for
example, evaluators are often governmental institutions, which
often have a low public trust. In general, credibility is a presumption for trust. It is not what experts and the media tell is important,
but what the public think and whom they trust.
Given the uncertainties when it comes to scientic facts, we also
have to take into account that what we know as fact today may not
prove true tomorrow. Science develops all the time and we will

R. Wennersten et al. / Journal of Cleaner Production 103 (2015) 724e736

look at problems differently at different time. In relation to CCS, it is

important to see how the precautionary principle would be
applied. In a recent report Late Lessons from Early Warnings:
Science, Precaution, Innovation from the European Environmental
Agency, many case studies, covering a diverse range of chemical
and technological innovations, have been used to discuss why the
precautionary principle have failed in so many previous cases (EEA,
2013). The case studies highlight a number of systemic problems, in
which a general problem is the long-time lags between warnings
and actions. It is worth remembering that already in the 1890s the
Swedish scientist Svante Arrenius calculated that a doubling of
atmospheric CO2 would induce a total warming of 5e6  C (The
Earth Observatory, 2014). Several causes for the time delay between warning and action and the problem to apply the precautionary principle are pointed out in the report. One is that
numerous case studies show that decisions to act without precaution often come from businesses. Another reason seems to be
there are always difculties in balancing precaution with technological innovation. Too much precaution might hinder the development of new technologies. The speed and scale of today's
technological innovations can inhibit timely action. This is often
because by the time clear evidence of harm has been established,
the technology has been modied, thereby allowing claims of
safety to be subsequently re-asserted. As the Fukushima Investigation Committee concluded in 2011:
' the accident present us with crucial lessons on how we should
be prepared for incidents beyond assumptions. With its failure to
plan for the cascade effects beyond designebase accidents, the
regulatory emphasis on risk-based probabilistic assessment has
proven very limited' (EEA, 2013).
Yes, we now know that the probability that tsunamis can affect a
nuclear reactor close to the ocean is not negligible. The question is
why didn't we know this before the accident and what is it we still
don't know? The case studies in the EEA report show that evaluations of evidence in risk assessments can be improved by including
a wide range of stakeholders when framing the risks and options
agenda; broadening the scope and membership of evaluation
committees; increasing the transparency of committee approaches
and methods, particularly in identifying uncertainties and ignorance; and ensuring their independence from undue inuence
through using appropriate funding sources and applying robust
policies on conicts of interest.
The role of science in risk assessment is thus more a role of
facilitation in conict management (Osawa, 1996). The experience
here is also that the conict resolutions should start early, i.e. upstream, in order to avoid intractable conicts later, i.e. downstream,
in the process (Leal Filho et al., 2008).
6.1. Regulations for risk assessment
National legislations around CCS are still in a phase where a lot
of uncertainties exist around the storage of CO2. In the Directive
2009/31/EC, EU has issued guidelines, which aims to establish a
legal framework for the environmentally safe storage of CO2
(European Union, 2009). In the Directive, it is stated that a site can
only be selected for use if a prior analysis shows that, under the
proposed conditions of use, there is no signicant risk of leakage or
damage to human health or the environment. No geological storage
of CO2 will be possible without a storage permit. The term significant risk is dened as a combination of a probability of occurrence
of damage and a magnitude of damage that cannot be disregarded.
This means that an event that is regarded as having a low probability can be excluded in the risk assessment. It is interesting to note


that CCS is described as a bridging technology that will contribute

to mitigating climate change. CCS should not serve as an incentive
to increase the share of fossil fuel power plants. Its development
should not lead to a reduction of efforts to support energy saving
policies, renewable energies and other safe and sustainable low
carbon technologies, both in research and nancial terms
(European Union, 2009).
When it comes to risks for large accidents in e.g. chemical industries, there are detailed regulations for how risk assessment
should be carried out and communicated. In the EU, the principles
for this are described in the SEVESO directive (European
Commission, 2014). This directive is implemented into the national legislation in EU countries. The principles in this directive are
that the responsible company should identify possible events that
can lead to large accidents, often referred to as worst cases, and
that the probabilities should be estimated for such events. The risk
for a worst case is thus described in a similar way as signicant risk
in the CCS Directive. Worst cases, which are thought to have very
low probabilities, do not have to be investigated in detail and
described in emergency plans, i.e. risk-based assessment
(Wennersten and Fidler, 2007). In addition, it should also be shown
that there is a management system that can safely handle daily
operation as well as emergency situations.
If we compare the EU legislation with that in the US, there is an
important difference. In the USA the legislation dictates that, in
principle, worst cases should be covered regardless of the probability, i.e. consequence-based assessment. Experience from other
projects is that many of the stakeholders including politicians,
media and the public have a consequence-based approach more
than a risk-based approach. This means that they do not take the
low probabilities for large accidents into account, but merely focus
on possible worst case scenarios and whether or not those can be
handled (Wennersten and Fidler, 2007). In sociological terms, this
is often expressed as the concept that the public generally use a
social constructivist risk perspective, and risk experts generally
use a realist perspective (Cardona, 2004; Singleton et al., 2009).
From history, we know that scepticism towards estimated low
probabilities for accidents are often relevant. A central problem
with risk-based assessment is that they involve probabilistic calculations based on what we know can happen. We use statistical
data for things that have happened and also causal relations that
we believe exist. Risk assessment based on historical data is a
powerful tool in developing more safety in existing installations.
However, it is doubtful when it comes to handling large-scale
accidents and communication of the consequences. When sticking to a realist perspective, experts often have huge difculties in
handling the media in the communication of probabilistic risk
assessment. Journalists cannot always handle the scientic
complexity, and they want to simplify and give clear answers.
They will stick to the question What is the worst thing that can
To conclude, risk communication must start early in the planning process and involve all relevant stakeholders including the
media and the public. The communication must involve informed
trusted stakeholders. When handling worst cases of CO2 leaks, it is
better to clearly present different magnitudes major leakage, big
leakage and minor leakage. It is then important to present the
ability to handle each of these cases. It must be shown that there
are reliable ways to detect leakages and also credible emergency
plans, where there is enough time to evacuate people from an
affected area. The affected area should always be calculated from
the least favourable situation concerning, for example, wind direction, time of year and day. Starting from the worst-case scenario
means one does not have to end up with discussions, where scenarios are omitted because of low probabilities.


R. Wennersten et al. / Journal of Cleaner Production 103 (2015) 724e736

In the communication process, it is often also important to

compare risks. When it comes to CCS, this can be done at different
system levels. The rst comparison can be: what is the risk of
continuing to emit CO2 and affecting climate change compared to
the risk of storing CO2 in geological formations? There must also be
an open debate of risks and opportunities with different mitigation
opportunities. As shown in several studies, this has to be accompanied with information about the alternatives (de BestWaldhober et al., 2009). Nuclear energy as well as hydropower
also carries risks for humans and the environment. It is also
important to have an open debate about the quantitative contributions that different mitigation options have on GHG mitigation.
There is still a widespread belief that renewables like solar electricity and wind power have a larger share in the energy mix than
they really have.
7. Results and conclusions
The situation regarding GHG emissions and climate change is
becoming increasingly critical, as has been pointed out by the IPCC.
Scenarios show that the absolute amount of fossil fuels will
continue to increase and so too will emissions of CO2. This increase
is connected very much to the fast economic development in large
countries like China and India and is also linked to an increasing
world population. However, the global political system seems to be
more or less paralysed when it comes to agreeing on binding international agreements to reduce GHG emissions, and in the
meantime, the political inuence on the IPCC reports tends to hide
how acute the situation is and to deliver messages that we have still
time to act.
Recent research on safe planetary boundaries has proposed a
future limit of 350 ppm CO2 in the atmosphere. Such a target is
optimistic, but at least it is easier to understand and connect to
national targets. It is time for all actors including governments,
companies and NGOs to step aside from own spheres of interest
and reect on realistic solutions for mitigation of climate change. It
is just not realistic to think that renewable energy sources can
replace fossil fuels in a predictable future horizon of 50 or even 100
years from now. Renewables have to be developed, but the main
role for mitigation of CO2 in the short run can only succeed by a
large-scale application of CCS in combination with increased energy efciency. The latter option can be achieved only if new
business models are developed and subsidies of fossil fuels are
CCS can offer us an emergent solution for reducing CO2 emissions in the near future and give us more time to transit the energy
systems towards a more efcient use of energy and more sustainable energy sources. In the long run, carbon storage can actually be
used as a regulator for the global temperature. In the longer term,
we must thus rely more on renewables, but equally understand that
the societal metabolism then has to be changed towards much
higher resource efciency.
Based on available scientic evidence, this paper points out that
the main barriers for implementation of CCS are not technical, but
economic and social. As long as the costs for emitting CO2 are
essentially lower than implementing CCS, development will stay on
a pilot or demonstration scale. The large subsidies enjoyed by fossil
fuels have to be redirected to new technologies like CCS and renewables. However, it is inevitable that this will raise energy prices,
politically difcult at this point in time. Socially, the risks connected
to storing CO2 are still not understood and adequately communicated. Experiences from other elds, e.g. risk assessments and
communications in the chemical industry, indicate that it is
important to have an open debate early in the process, where risks
are presented from a worst-case perspective and also compared to

risks of other mitigation options like renewable energy and energy

efciency. Experiences from other areas also show that we should
apply a more consequence-based risk evaluation in order to be able
to communicate worst-case scenarios and how these can be
handled. The public attitudes to CCS are still somewhat equivocal,
or even negative, and this has to be changed if the technology
should be developed on a large scale globally.
Due to the lack of global agreements, there seems to be a slowdown in the planning of large-scale CCS projects and many existing
projects have been stopped. To reach global agreements around
reaching a future level of CO2 of 350 ppm, it will be essential to nd
ways of distributing the responsibilities. The way forward must be
that the developed countries have to take a step forward and show
that they are willing to invest in CCS technology. Now they are in a
situation where it is reasonable that they take a leading role in
developing CCS technology on a large-scale. It is highly probable
that developing countries will follow this development, since they
have a clear ambition to lead in climate change mitigation in the
long run and to avoid blame for a deteriorating environment.
The challenges to meet the goals for reducing CO2 emissions are
massive and urgent. We have to decide now if we really take these
challenges seriously. Already pessimism seems to be spreading.
Many scientists from different elds who have been contacted
during the work with this paper have expressed a deep pessimism
over the future efforts required to tackle climate change. We are
still locked in a situation, where those earning short-term prots
and those suffering long-term disasters are separate. This was
already described in 1968 in the well-known paper The tragedy of
the Commons (Hardin, 1968).
The main conclusion in this paper is, based on the scientic facts
presented, that CCS is an indispensable option to tackle increasing
CO2 emissions at present and in the near future, and that the
challenges around the magnitude of mitigation is huge and not
widely understood. The only way to go from awareness to action is
to create broad awareness of these facts. As this study is mainly
based on literature studies and personal communications, the
limitation is that strategies around CCS within companies are hard
to nd, although company strategies are very much inuenced by
political decisions and the economy. Political decisions in turn are
often affected by public opinions, which tend to favour mitigation
options like renewables more than CCS. One reason for this is that
renewables are advocated by NGOs, which may have a relatively
high trust among the public. Therefore, it is time to start a wider
communication process led by trusted stakeholders, including
NGOs and other CCS interested organisations and to show which
mitigation options must play the main role in short, medium and
long terms.

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