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In this blog, Professor Diana-Maria Cismaru reflects on STRATEGY CCUS’s engagement with stakeholders through tailored events in our target regions
After three years of research across eight European regions, we have reached one of the most rewarding moments of the project: sharing our results with the industries, policymakers and communities that we hope will use and benefit from them.
Over the past two months, we have held seven Regional Events (the two regions in France held a joint event) to present our scenarios for implementing CCUS to local stakeholders from industry, local and regional authorities, public agencies and NGOs. These scenarios - central to the project - bring together factors such as a region’s CO2 emissions, characterisation of its infrastructure, the potential socio-economic impact and public perceptions of CCUS.
Enlarging our networks
Overseen by myself and the SNSPA team and organised by the regional teams, these Regional Events are distinct from the Regional Stakeholder Committees (RSCs) held earlier in the project: the RSCs were workshops with a group of stakeholders invited to help shape our research and draft the scenarios. Held three times in each region, these stakeholders shared information, and their opinions, about the future of CCUS in their respective country and region.
Building on the RSCs, the Regional Events have aimed to enlarge the networks they created, increase engagement, and help highlight opportunities for CCUS in each region and how to overcome barriers.
While the frequently changing Covid-19 regulations across Europe complicated our preparations, we also benefitted from the new work habits created by the pandemic: familiarity with digital meeting platforms meant we could reach bigger audiences. All countries apart from Greece (which was only in-person) opted for hybrid events, with typically around a third of attendees participating in-person and the rest online. Overall numbers ranged from around 40 in Greece to 100 or more in Portugal, Spain and France. Digital tools such as Mentimeter gave us the opportunity to interact well with participants.
Event agendas - set by the individual regional teams - were very different: some focused on technical results; others had sections on communication and public acceptance or dedicated to stakeholders. Again, the RSCs influenced the agendas, with local teams seeking to address the issues RSC members raised. The RSC discussions revealed, for example, that in Spain and Portugal, the role of CCUS in reducing CO2emissions from manufacturing industries is recognised, while, in France, CCUS is considered as just one among many options for reducing them. While most interviewees were positive towards CCUS, we also identified barriers and these differed between regions. For example, in Spain, Croatia and Romania, lack of support at the political and administrative levels were considered key obstacles. In both Romania and Poland, meanwhile, limited CO2 storage possibilities were also a concern. Consequently, the Regional Event in Romania, for example, included a presentation on the outlook for CO2 storage while both Romania and Spain also looked at building acceptance.
Similarly, participants reflected both the industries specific to each region as well as the level of CCUS development. For example, here in Romania, where CCUS is at the early stages of active consideration, we had more participants from research and academia than from industry. In France, where CCUS is closer to being realised, on the other hand, several companies and industries were represented and we had greater interaction, with many questions and a good discussion.
With the Regional Events now completed, our attention has moved to the project’s Final Event, being held in Brussels on June 14 and 15. This will pull together the results from our eight regions: we will present the key themes and outcomes, and how we can best accelerate CCUS - increasingly seen as a critical set of technologies in combatting climate change. We hope to see you there.
Professor Cismaru is head of the Public Relations Department at the College of Communication and Public Relations, at the Școala Națională de Studii Politice și Administrative (SNSPA), Romania’s National University of Political Studies and Public Administration in Bucharest.