Why A Communication Strategy Is Needed

CO2 geological storage is a relatively new technology which is still very little known by the public at large. In the United States just 4% of the population seems to have heard about CO2GS (Curry et al., 2004). We don't have data for Europe but probably the situation is similar. At the same time, however, CO2GS is believed to be quite a crucial technology for the reduction of excess CO2 in the atmosphere.

CO2 production is expected to increase globally in the future. Newly industrialised countries, such as China, are expected to further contribute to a situation that many observers already consider very dangerous for the earth's health and for our well - being. There is a lot of debate on how to deal with this very serious health and environmental issue, but one point seems to be clear: CO2 emissions need to be controlled and reduced.

To reduce emissions we must find, improve or increase new ways of energy production that do not result in massive CO2 production. In the intervening time, during which the new technologies will be developed, we must do all we can to deal with CO2 that is still being produced through the use of fossil fuels. It is here that CO2GS comes to be regarded as a safe technology that can potentially have a major role in avoiding the release of large quantities of CO2 from present technologies into the atmosphere.

We have a problem, CO2 excess, and we have a potential partial solution to that problem in the form of CO2GS. What is needed to implement this solution and thus improve the overall situation of CO2 in the atmosphere? Certainly more research is needed, more studies need to be done on how this technology can best be implemented, on where and how storage sites must be constructed, how they must be monitored and how local populations are to be involved in site selection and implementation. We need technical, legal, economic, and socio - psychological guidelines to be able to facilitate a wide exploitation of this technology (de Conink and Huijts, 2004). But what is probably needed more at this stage is that this technology is better known and understood, both by the public at large and by decision-makers dealing with the problem of excess CO2.

A correct dissemination of information on CO2GS issues is fundamental for the promotion of social support and funding, which are both essential for further development and exploitation of this technology. Making CO2GS

better known means:

• positioning it in the minds of the public as one available option for reducing CO2. At the moment most people don't even know about the existence of CO2GS, therefore it can hardly be considered an option. Furthermore, one has to take care that people get acquainted with the new technology through positive and correct information.

• facilitating communication with stakeholders. Stakeholders would find it very difficult to make decisions concerning a technology that is very little known, and therefore implies the risk of a lack of consensus. Clear and tested guidelines can greatly facilitate becoming familiar with the technology and taking appropriate decisions.

• facilitating communication with the public living near potential sites. Public consensus is a decisive factor for the construction of new sites. The exploration of the demands and needs of people living near a potential site is required. It is of no use to develop sophisticated technologies if one cannot find a place to put them because people don't know how to evaluate them, and therefore are afraid and don't want them. Getting people to know what CO2GS is all about must then be a major goal of any policy regarding CO2GS (Bradbury and Dooley, 2004).

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