Address. Engage. Decarbonize.

GPI's Carbon Action Alliance Launches to Address Critical Step in Carbon Management Deployment: Education and Public Outreach
By Diana Leane | May 03, 2023

Carbon capture, utilization, storage and removal projects are gathering momentum globally, particularly in the United States after the passage of the historic Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL) and Inflation Reduction Act (IRA). The United States alone had 148 CCS projects in various stages of development as of September 2022, according to a Clean Air Task Force database.

Yet public awareness of the energy transition remains low. Only 24% of voters knew BIL  – which contained a wide range of provisions to support the transition to cleaner, more sustainable energy sources – had become law in July 2022, according to a Third Way memo. Messaging and engagement on the transition are increasingly important as more projects are proposed.

When zeroing in on carbon management, awareness decreases even more. Twenty-one CCUS projects were in the works in Louisiana in 2022, yet only 13% of Louisiana voters said they had heard “a lot” about the proposed projects across the state, according to Great Plains Institute polling from 2022. These voters widely supported projects designed to remove carbon emissions at a rate of 71%.

Carbon management stakeholders have the unique opportunity to introduce the technology to many individuals or help inform the existing conversations by providing the facts and figures behind the technology’s deployment.

People want to understand the facts, risks, and benefits from trusted sources. Early and frequent engagement with community members encourages participation and helps build trust. 

With this engagement, projects can be developed in a way that communities consent to and benefit from. The Great Plains Institute, a nonprofit that works to achieve a better energy system, launched the Carbon Action Alliance in the fall of 2022 in response to this need for engagement.

Introduction to Carbon Action Alliance
As carbon management increasingly enters public discourse, the Carbon Action Alliance works to promote transparent communication, education and engagement. The Action Alliance provides education and advocacy about carbon management and industrial decarbonization technologies needed to reach net-zero emissions by mid-century. The Alliance's network includes stakeholders from industry, government, labor, community, NGO and other backgrounds.

“We want people to be aware of carbon management and industrial decarbonization opportunities as they consider what their energy future will look like," said Bridget Callaghan, Carbon Action Alliance manager.

The Alliance tracks media trends in carbon management, and has identified some opportunities to strengthen the ways the technology is communicated to the public.

State of carbon management messaging
Awareness of carbon management will continue to grow as projects take off. Carbon capture and storage projects increased by 44% worldwide in 2022 alone, according to YaleEnvironment360. The questions are about who will reach out first to the members of the public unfamiliar with the technology first, what information will be shared, and whether it will be accurate.

Several common misconceptions have regularly appeared, often unchallenged. The Alliance addresses these misconceptions by connecting reporters with experts to discuss the technology. The Alliance also produce digestible, factual resources on carbon management, legislative policies and other related topics.

The Alliance reaches out to media regarding inaccuracies to share the research that GPI and other organizations have done. Local leaders, such as labor organizations, who communities trust, hold an important role in this conversation. Leaders can speak out in their local meetings and publications on the benefits they see carbon management would bring.  

Common misconceptions
To address misinformation, stakeholders must first understand what primary claims are being widely shared. The most common misconceptions the Alliance has observed, and examples of how it responds, include the following:

Claim: Carbon capture is described as an unproven technology.
CCUS technologies have been in use since the 1970s when the first large-scale project to inject carbon dioxide (CO2) underground was launched in Texas in 1972, as reported in Columbia Climate School's State of the Planet. The technologies have been used in Europe for decades.

Norway created the world's first commercial CO2 storage project, Sleipner, in 1996. Around 15.5 million tonnes had been injected into the project since the project's start in 1996 to 2015, according to Carbon Capture & Sequestration Technologies at MIT.

Claim: Carbon capture is described as an expensive boondoggle that won't scale commercially.
The carbon management industry only recently gained the necessary federal policy framework to scale at the rate needed to meet mid-century, net-zero climate targets. Funding through BIL and IRA's enhancements to the 45Q tax credit lays the groundwork for financially feasible commercial deployment of the technology.

Previous legislative efforts to fund carbon capture and storage demonstration projects didn't include the financial certainty that current federal tax credits provide. The costs of project development and the capturing of CO2 have also significantly dropped through previous demonstration funding.

Renewable energy sources like wind, solar and hydropower faced similar hurdles when these technologies were first taking off. Solar panels plummeted in price once the technology evolved so they were produced more. Carbon capture is in this stage and becoming more economical, too.

Claim: Carbon management is a false climate solution that takes resources from other renewable energy projects.
To reach mid-century net-zero goals and address the historic stores of greenhouse gas emissions in the atmosphere, we will need to utilize all solutions available, while also reducing emissions at the source. International agencies, such as the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), have reached this conclusion, as well.

The IPCC’s latest climate report, published in March, states net-zero CO2 energy systems entail “the use of carbon capture and storage in the remaining fossil fuel systems” in addition to other steps, such as a “substantial reduction in overall fossil fuel use,” according to the Summary for Policymakers.

Additionally, the report states limiting human-caused climate change to target levels will require carbon dioxide removal. At this stage, we need all solutions we have at our disposal to limit climate change.

Claim: Carbon management may be described as a technology only with applications in the oil and gas industry.
The carbon management industry has historically been focused on oil production due to the economic reality of project deployment. The policy framework is now in place to shift the market and interests toward utilization or secure geologic storage.
More than 70% of projects announced since the 2018 reform of the 45Q tax credit plan to safely and securely store captured CO2 in deep geologic formations. New opportunities are arising for captured CO2 to be used in products, such as sustainable fuels and fabrics .

Where to go from here  
Given the scale of the carbon management deployment set to unfold in the next decade, responding to questions, debunking misinformation and hearing how project development can be done to benefit communities, will take a concerted effort among all stakeholders.

Perhaps the most important step in the deployment of carbon management projects is to directly listen to communities about their own needs, wants and concerns. Stakeholders involved in project development have the responsibility to understand the communities they're active in.

Local regions have their own specific concerns and interests important to their communities. Even communities within one state aren't monoliths. Effectively responding to concerns around deployment will require frequent, transparent communication, and listening to communities own needs and questions.

To help ensure community values are taken into account, the Great Plains Institute is creating a decision support tool for carbon management project siting. The tool will integrate potential environmental justice considerations into a geospatial analysis of environmental, regulatory, and legal constraints to project development. The tool enables communities, government and industries to develop a common understanding of the complexities that must be addressed to site and build projects.
The Carbon Action Alliance is focused on addressing these concerns and engaging with local communities on decarbonization and carbon management. Learn more about these efforts at, and reach out if interested in collaborating on engagement opportunities.

Diana Leane
Carbon Action Alliance Communications and
PR Strategist at Great Plains Institute