Public awareness and acceptance of Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) as a tool to combat climate change is higher in Saskatchewan and Alberta than the rest of Canada, concludes a national survey released today by Carbon Management Canada (CMC) and the International Performance Assessment Centre for the Geological Storage of CO2 (IPAC-CO2).
“As Canadians, we need to publicly discuss our transition to a low carbon future. This survey helps us understand where carbon capture and storage, which is a critical part of Canada’s plan, plays in public perception,” says Richard Adamson, Managing Director of CMC.
Carmen Dybwad, CEO of IPAC-CO2, agrees: “Effective communication underlies the ability to engage in discussion on how we can sustainably and responsibly meet our future energy needs. The information found in the national Public Awareness Survey provides the much needed understanding to initiate and nurture the communication with Canadians on our options for reducing greenhouse gas emissions.”
The online survey of 1,548 Canadians, commissioned by IPAC-CO2 with support from CMC, was conducted by Insightrix Research, Inc. between Sept. 27 and Oct. 28 2011. The margin of error is plus or minus 3 % at a 95% confidence level. The online Canadian poll parallels the 2011 Eurobarometer survey of 13,000 individuals in 12 European countries.
CCS, a key tool in combating climate change, involves extracting carbon dioxide during the process of power generation or from heavy industrial operations such as steel mills or cement plants, compressing it and storing the CO2 permanently in depleted oil or gas fields or saline aquifers.
“Comparing the awareness in the different provinces, the study shows a higher level of knowledge in Saskatchewan and Alberta where 40% and 27% of respondents report knowing what CCS is. The lowest levels of awareness are in Ontario and Atlantic Canada with figures of 9% and 10%,” said Dybwad. Overall in Canada 14% of respondents know what CCS is while in Europe just 10% of respondents report knowing what CCS is.
Adamson says the results are not a surprise. “In Alberta the provincial government recently invested $ 2 billion in CCS demonstration as part of its plan to reduce carbon emissions. In Saskatchewan, Cenovus has been sequestering CO2 in an enhanced oil recovery operation in Weyburn for decades. So more people have heard about and know what CCS is.”
Canadians and Europeans agree on the effectiveness of CCS as a method to combat climate change. About the same proportion of respondents in Canada and Europe believe that CCS would be very (7% and 6% respectively) or fairly (35% in Canada; 33% in Europe) effective in fighting climate change. However, the proportion who are unsure of its effectiveness is considerably higher in Europe (36%) compared to Canada (24%).
Other key findings:
- 31% of Canadians think climate change is occurring and is due solely to human activity;
- 57% of Canadians think climate change is caused by a mix of human activity and natural climate variation;
- 95% of Canadians favor solar energy as an energy source followed by wind (90%), hydroelectric (81%), natural gas (71%), nuclear (32%) with coal trailing at (19%);
- 51% of Canadians believe fossil fuels will still be used for electricity production after the year 2050; and
- 29% of Canadians believe CCS will help ensure lower and more stable energy prices.
“This survey makes it clear that Canadians believe our climate is changing and it underscores the need to move forward with mitigation strategies. CCS is part of a portfolio of tools we can use to reduce carbon emissions, but it is important because it can be applied at industrial scale and in the context of existing industrial infrastructure sooner than many others,” says Adamson.
Formed in 2009, IPAC-CO2 works to gain public and regulator confidence in the geological storage of carbon dioxide as a sustainable energy and environmental option by providing independent performance assessments of carbon capture and storage (CCS) projects.
Carbon Management Canada is a national network that funds academic research to develop the technology, the knowledge and the personnel to radically reduce carbon emissions in the fossil energy sector and in large-scale emitters.
The full survey on Public Awareness and Acceptance of CSS in Canada is available below.