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PilotSTRATEGY engages with local citizens in the three promising regions

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Wide shot of a presentation in a conference room

PilotSTRATEGY is advancing the exploration of three promising carbon storage sites in Portugal, Spain, and France. As part of the ongoing work, the project has recently organised citizen engagement activities to involve local residents, industry, local elected representatives, NGOs and more. Below is a summary of the activities carried out in each region in recent months.


The first citizen engagement activity in Portugal took place on the 3rd February 2024 at the Quartel da Imagem in Figueira da Foz. Nine local citizens, recruited though an email campaign addressed to civil society organisations, spent a Saturday afternoon getting acquainted with CCS and the PilotSTRATEGY project.

Most participants mentioned having heard of CCS and/or having researched the topic before their attendance. Overall, participants recognised fewer benefits than concerns regarding CCS. Identified benefits were associated with its environmental role in reducing CO2 in the atmosphere, its link to technological advancement and research, and its potential to foster greater accountability within the industrial sector. Participants identified numerous concerns regarding CCS, namely related to environmental and security risks and to environmental impacts. Moreover, they raised issues about the technology's costs and its efficacy, as well as uncertainties regarding technological aspects and long-term effects. Novel concerns also emerged: the energy needs of carbon capture and the risk of CCS being a misleading solution and a form of greenwashing.

At the end the event, attendees were asked to express their stance regarding a prospective CCS project at Figueira da Foz. Some declared their total rejection of CCS, but a small majority considered that although CCS is not the ideal option to mitigate climate change, a well-managed project, with responsible promoters, could be beneficial for the planet and for the local community.


In September 2023, a citizen engagement activity was held in Belchite (Zaragoza) to discuss CCS technologies and the Ebro Basin project. Nine residents participated, demonstrating limited knowledge of CCS technology, and expressing a range of emotions and perceptions. Astonishment and curiosity were the most common emotions, followed by scepticism regarding the benefits and costs of CO2 storage. Fear of the unknown was less common, while some participants saw CCS as a source of hope for climate change mitigation. Participants identified reduced emissions and slowed global warming as potential benefits but emphasised that projects should also directly benefit the region through job creation, industrial development, and tax incentives. Concerns were raised about potential leaks, security threats, environmental risks, and the high costs of implementation and transportation. Participants discussed critical conditions — including transparency and information — for CCS projects:

  • Disseminate clear and accessible information about the project to the public.
  • Projects must generate tangible economic and local benefits.
  • Safety should be a top priority, and concerns must be addressed comprehensively.
  • Trust can be established through transparency, so maintain open communication throughout the project's life.

These findings highlight the importance of early, consistent, and transparent community engagement when planning future CCS projects.


On June 6th 2023, the French team hosted a public reception in Grandpuits – Paris Basin, aimed at presenting project activities and engaging with local citizens and stakeholders. About 30 participants, including residents, local and regional/national elected representatives, local industry representatives, farmers, local NGOs, and political figures attended the evening gathering and discussions. Among the subjects addressed by the participants: the place for CCS in the fight against climate change and alternative options; the technical aspects of geological storage and questions about safety; the future of the industrial activity in the region, etc. Another public event in Grandpuits is planned for May 2024.

France's Regional Stakeholder Committee (19 participants) met in September. PilotSTRATEGY researchers presented methods and results concerning underground site characterisation and safety/risk analysis. Detailed discussions improved mutual understanding of both the research and local concerns.  Synthesis reports in French are publicly available for download from https://pilotstrategy.eu/about-the-project/explore-the-regions.

Image: Citizen engagement event in Grandpuits – Paris Basin, June 2023

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