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Geophysical Monograph Series



  • Carbon sequestration
  • Carbon cycle (Biogeochemistry)

Index Terms

  • 6620 Public Issues: Science policy
  • 6615 Public Issues: Legislation and regulations
  • 1699 Global Change: General or miscellaneous



Sociopolitical drivers in the development of deliberate carbon storage

J. C. Stephens

The idea of engineering the storage of carbon released from fossil fuel burning in reservoirs other than the atmosphere has developed in the past 20 years from an obscure idea to an increasingly recognized potential approach that could be an important contributor to stabilizing atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) concentrations. Despite the intense application of scientific and technological expertise to the development of options for deliberate carbon storage, nontechnical factors play an important role. This chapter identifies sociopolitical, nontechnical factors that have contributed to the development of ideas and technologies associated with deliberate carbon storage. Broadly, interest in deliberate storage has expanded in response to increasing societal attention to reducing CO2 emissions for climate change mitigation. Specific societal groups, or stakeholders, which have contributed to the recent focus on carbon storage include the fossil fuel industry that has been shifting to a strategy of confronting rather than denying the CO2-climate change connection, a scientific community motivated by an increased sense of urgency of the need to reduce atmospheric CO2 concentrations, the general public with little knowledge about or awareness of carbon storage, and environmental advocacy groups that have demonstrated some divergence in levels of support for deliberate carbon storage. Among the policy mechanisms that have provided incentives for deliberate carbon storage are national accounting of carbon sources and sinks and carbon taxes. Another driver with particular importance in the United States is the political preference of some politicians to support development of advanced technologies for climate change mitigation rather than supporting mandatory CO2 regulations.

Citation: Stephens, J. C. (2009), Sociopolitical drivers in the development of deliberate carbon storage, in Carbon Sequestration and Its Role in the Global Carbon Cycle, Geophys. Monogr. Ser., vol. 183, edited by B. J. McPherson and E. T. Sundquist, pp. 293–301, AGU, Washington, D. C., doi:10.1029/2005GM000321.

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