Carbon capture and storage: what is holding the Netherlands back?
By Ankita Singhvi.
In order to limit global warming to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels, it is generally agreed that the concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere must remain under 400 ppm. Carbon capture and storage (CCS) is a climate mitigation strategy that promises to contribute substantially to keeping CO2 under this limit. The IPCC has stated that the costs of regulating climate change will be twice as high without CCS, and the International Energy Agency adds that it is the most important new strategy for a low-carbon society. Nonetheless, implementation of CCS has met many obstacles over the last decade. There has only been one operational CCS facility in the Netherlands (K12-B CO2 Injection Project), and even that was closed in 2017. This begs the question, what is holding back the deployment of CCS in the Netherlands?
We approached this question by analysing stakeholder expectations about CCS and how the Dutch government has translated these expectations into values and actions. Expectations are important because they do political work; they mobilise resources and script actions into the present. We found that there have been five dominant narratives over the last two decades, and that with each one, the Dutch government has reformulated its values to re-align itself to the relevant stakeholders. Values are the government’s attitude or intentions towards CCS, whereas actions are interventions such as policies, laws or funding.
As the table above shows, we found that the main obstacle for CCS has been the government’s value-action gap (also known as an intention-behavior gap). The government has often failed to take concrete actions that accelerate the development of CCS; there have been subsidies, but no clear laws or policies that suggest a commitment to formalising a place for CCS in meeting low-carbon targets. Without this commitment, stakeholders do not trust that their investment in CCS will be worthwhile. Therefore, we conclude that to accelerate the mainstreaming of CCS, the government needs to explicitly signal that emitting carbon will be consistently expensive enough in the future to justify the deployment of CCS technology.
This article is adapted from a report by: Ankita Singhvi and fellow IE students. It was an assignment from the Closed Loop Supply Chains (CLOSCY) course. The original can be viewed on request.