Carbon capture and storage: A cultural approach to understanding experts’ views in Finland, Norway, and Germany

Farid Karimi of the Environmental Research Group (EPRG), University of Helsinki, Finland, scrutinized the implementation of carbon capture and storage (CCS) technology from the perspective of socio-cultural structures.

Farid Oddin

Farid Oddin


The challenge of the transition to a sustainable energy regime is not limited to its engineering aspects, but has strong social and political dimensions. In this research, the implementation of carbon capture and storage (CCS) technology is scrutinized from the perspective of socio-cultural structures, and the following questions are addressed:

  • What are the experts’ concerns about CCS technology projects?
  • How do experts from different cultures perceive the risks of CCS?
  • How do different risk perspectives translate into different approaches to the technology?

By addressing these questions, the authors aims to contribute to the risk governance of CCS by demonstrating who fears what and why with respect to CCS.


This research is principally based on the analysis and mapping of the data gathered from: i) interviews with experts from Germany, Norway, and Finland, and ii) a case study of CCS projects in those countries. The interviews were mapped by applying methods developed by Cultural Theory [1]. The experts’ perceptions and concerns about CCS are analyzed using Cultural Theory-based discourse analysis [2]. Based on this method, each “story” creates a setting (the basic assumptions), villains (the problem(s) and who or what is causing them), and heroes (solution(s) and who or what should be responsible). These narrative components enable researchers to map areas of agreement and disagreement and can thus be utilized to generate solutions to a wicked problem.

Results and Conclusions

The CCS discourse in Germany is significantly dominated by hierarchical and, to a lesser extent, egalitarian forms of social solidarity. The discourse in Norway, on the other hand, is mainly dominated by individualistic and, to a lesser extent, hierarchical forms of social solidarity.

By comparing the results of the discourse analysis, an obvious contrast between experts’ views in two countries is observed. While the mainstream view in Norway considers CCS to be a must, most experts in Germany object to the technology in every way. For instance, a scientist who represents the view of a research body in Norway profoundly supports CCS and sees “not doing CCS” as the most significant risk. A scientist in Germany, however, strictly rejects the technology.

According to experts from the case studies, the main issues that should be taken into consideration before the commercialization of the technology are the high cost of the technology and the need for more demonstration projects to identify the risks and the potential mitigation strategies.


[1] Douglas M, Thompson M, Verweij M. (2003). Is time running out? The case of global warming. Daedalus, 98-107.

[2] Ney S. (2009). Resolving messy policy problems: Handling conflict in environmental, transport, health, and ageing policy. Earthscan, London.


Nadejda Komendantova-Amann and Michael Thompson, Risk, Policy and Vulnerability, IIASA


Farid Karimi of the Environmental Research Group (EPRG), University of Helsinki, Finland, is a Finnish-Iranian national. He was funded by IIASA’s Finnish National Member Organization and worked in the Risk, Policy and Vulnerability (RPV) Program during the YSSP.

Please note these Proceedings have received limited or no review from supervisors and IIASA program directors, and the views and results expressed therein do not necessarily represent IIASA, its National Member Organizations, or other organizations supporting the work.

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Last edited: 05 September 2017

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