Americans are unaware of carbon capture and sequestration technology, according to a new study

Written by
Molly Seltzer
Molly Seltzer, Andlinger Center for Energy and the Environment
June 15, 2021

Carbon capture and sequestration (CCS) has surfaced as a tool for stymieing climate change among politicians and industrialists alike. The CCS process involves capturing carbon dioxide gas from facilities, such as fossil fuel power plants, factories, and refineries, before it enters the atmosphere and piping it underground for permanent storage. CCS promises to reduce emissions from industrial processes like steel and cement production that are more difficult to decarbonize. But critics cite concerns in the technology’s high cost and challenges in identifying viable storage sites as serious issues. They also say it’s a way to extend the life of fossil fuel plants and pay a windfall to their owners.

Despite the criticism that the technology benefits the incumbent oil and gas sector, many see it as a crucial technology for preventing further buildup of atmospheric carbon dioxide and further planetary warming. Princeton’s Net-Zero America (NZA) study, released in December, maps out five technological pathways through which the United States could achieve net-zero emissions by 2050. Carbon capture is a key technology in all of the scenarios, but one requires that the carbon is used instead of sequestered underground, a concept known as carbon utilization.

According to Weber’s research, published in the journal Energy Policy, over 80% of Americans either do not know of the technology or could not definitively say that they recognize it, which points to a gap in communication.

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