Building the Agenda for Carbon Dioxide Capture and Storage: Limits of EU-Activism





External event

Brundtland report/oil and gas industry business options

CO2 reduction targets, potential world market developments

Energy security, saving coal

Support coalition

Government, NGOs, industry

Government, incumbent industry actors

Commission, national governments, expert epistemic community

“Innovative” actions

Tax, funding of research

Funding of research and demonstration projects

Funding of research and demonstration projects, regulatory framework

Role of government

Regulatory activism



Field development

Proactive adaptation

Unorganised social space

Unorganised social space

Technology development

Preconditions available



In Norway, the CCS development was driven forward by a broad coalition of actors, which came primarily from outside the electricity generating sector. Successful co-optation strategies brought together a coalition of actors from neighbouring fields, the general public and the incumbent actors. After 2005, a window of opportunity was opening for CCS. But emerging attributions of opportunity or threat do not in and of themselves guarantee innovative collective action. These developments helped shape the European agenda. As a consequence, the European Commission sought to foster CCS in member states by framing it as a means to achieve both energy security and climate change mitigation.

The CCS technology in Germany was supposed to be executed “from above” with the help of the established actors and networks consisting of energy providers, research institutes, hardware producers and political actors. They tried to push through a technological option against growing public opposition. The eventual failure to commercialise CCS is signified by the successful attempts of the opponents of CCS to organise and a lacking capacity of the established actors to co-opt them (like in Norway).

The empirical examples shed light on agenda-setting processes in situations of high scientific and technological uncertainty. Placing the topic of CCS on the policy agendas of the EU was easily done by linking it to the issue of climate change and by pointing to the Norwegian experiences. It has proven much more difficult to maintain the discussion and to link it with a debate on concrete political strategies and decisions in the absence of any best practices to rely on. These processes have led to a disruption between the agenda-setting and decision-making stages. The future development of the policy agendas on CCS is likely to depend on technological progress and future pressure (i.e. climate change pressures).


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