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10 Public engagement
- Public engagement and communication is increasingly recognised as a fundamental project management component for most CCS demonstration projects.
- All communication and engagement activity around a CCS demonstration project should be designed to build and reinforce trust between a developer and key stakeholders.
- Effort is required to improve understanding of CCS technology and its wider low-emission energy context.
The term ‘public engagement’ is used generically to describe multiple areas of stakeholder interaction – from dealings with key influencers over project progress (such as regulators and local site communities) to interaction with a more broadly defined public, including media and environmental NGOs. For all but a few CCS projects based in isolated locations, key stakeholder lists can be long and varied.
High-profile examples of the effects of organised public opposition in Europe, in combination with increased sensitivity to public spending following the GFC, means that proponents of CCS demonstration projects must become more adept at understanding and engaging with key stakeholders. The topic of public engagement is therefore growing in international significance.
For the 2011 project survey, the Global CCS Institute sought specific information from project proponents regarding their progress in the creation and execution of public engagement strategies. The 2012 project survey further developed these themes to examine the type of communities that CCS projects are dealing with, the communication and engagement tools that projects have found successful, key areas of concern voiced by stakeholders, the current levels of satisfaction with the project’s community data, and public engagement strategies as risk-mitigation tools.
In this chapter, interesting trends in the 2012 project survey data are identified and reflected on in the context of best practice lessons emerging from early demonstration projects and applied social research.
Short case studies are used to highlight two themes that consistently emerge from project feedback and social research: the need to improve understanding of CCS and energy more generally, and the importance of building and maintaining trust as a fundamental success factor in any public engagement strategy.