Informed public opinions on CO2 mitigation options in the Netherlands

The current report discusses the Information-Choice Questionnaire study done within the CATO2 program for Work Package 5.3, “Trends in public opinion”. When Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) emerged as a possible technological solution to the excessive emission of CO2 the logical next step seemed to investigate public perception of this option. Investigating public perception of a new and mostly unknown technology is not straightforward though. Earlier studies show that few people are aware of CCS or have some understanding of this option. They also show that uninformed opinions are unstable and easily changed, and therefore not predictive of actual future opinions. Moreover, they are not useful for a serious discussion on the place of CCS in society. Another way to study public perception in such situations is to use instruments that inform people while questioning them. A proven method for this is the so-called Information-Choice Questionnaire method (ICQ). An ICQ is essentially a decision-aid that includes information. In an ICQ several experts decide on the most relevant policy problem as well as the most relevant options to solve it. The experts gather information on the background of the problem, the options and the consequences of implementation of the options. After translation to lay language, this information is offered to people to evaluate in a highly structured way. The method of the ICQ is designed to support people in their decision making process and never to manipulate; it is therefore crucial that the information in the ICQ is accurate, reliable and balanced.