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The French politics about Carbon Capture and Storage: the failed governance of geo-engineering

Authors: Sebastien CHailleux*, E2S UPPA, Régis Briday, Passages, UPPA, Xavier Arnauld de Sartre, Passages UPPA
Topics: Global Change, Environment, Energy
Keywords: Carbon capture and storage; governance; legitimacy
Session Type: Paper
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


As Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) uses techniques comparable to the ones developed in Direct Air Capture, it is sometimes affiliated with “geoengineering”. Analyzing the case of France, the paper shows how some scientists, research centers and industrials promoted CCS as a solution to fight climate change and got involved in CCS programs generously funded by public money. Based on interviews and textual analysis, we defend that far from providing a solution to the crises of the Anthropocene, CCS failed to meet the initial promises because of three main misconceptions.

Firstly, debates in France remained mainly confined in the expert arena that not only depoliticizes debates but is also detrimental to the implementation of CCS in the long term.
Secondly, CCS questions the temporal scales of technological diffusion between scenarios including CCS and their actual development. We also underline the geographical discrepancies between locations where promoters aim to store CO2 but cannot for various reasons, and areas where storage is available but no project targets the location.
Thirdly, the paper shows how CCS adapted to criticism and remains a solution for some French actors despite its failure to materialize. Behind the public goal of climate change mitigation, CCS fulfills other targets such as maintaining industrial activities in France, showing good faith in acting for industrials, allowing maintaining the subsoil know-how of some traditional public actors and demonstrating an ability to innovate and export technical expertise for researchers.

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