ConsenCUS team
Image by: Euan Stewart, CCB Student on placement in the Research Strategy & Policy department


By Lucy Young, Creative & Cultural Business Student on placement in the Research Strategy & Policy department - 28 July 2022

What are our practical solutions to climate change? Researchers Professor Zoe Morrison, Dr Jacob Nielsen, and Dr Kostas Stavrianakis discuss their involvement in the worldwide carbon capture technology development project, ConsenCUS.

As the world turned its eye to Glasgow in November 2021 for COP26, the issue of climate change and how to tackle it was thrust into the spotlight. A group of researchers from various countries have come together on a project called ConsenCUS, a European Union funded scheme looking at one possible solution to our problems- Carbon Capture Utilisation and Storage, or CCUS. One of the most well-known climate change contributors is carbon dioxide, the gas created from burning fossil fuels that traps heat and causes CCUS allows experts to extract this carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and use it in other production areas, such as creating formic acid for use in food preservation. Essentially, it could significantly our current global carbon footprint. 

This is a huge project, with more than 120 researchers from seven countries across Europe, North America, and Asia contributing. I sat down with RGU researchers, Professor Zoe Morrison, and Dr Kostas Stavrianakis, to talk about their involvement in the scheme.  

When talking about climate change, we are often quick to forget that there are people living on the planet we are trying so hard to save. How do these plans and schemes for carbon capture affect those living around the facilities? This is the question that Professor Zoe Morrison, Dr Jacob Nielsen, and Dr Kostas Stavrianakis have been brought onto the project to answer. 

Professor Morrison is a social scientist and a researcher with the Aberdeen Business School. When asked about her input in the project, she said: “My academic work is about individuals’ experience of change… our part of the project is really about community awareness and acceptance of carbon capture, utilization, and storage.”  

At face value, ConsenCUS looks like purely an engineering project, but underneath it is so much more. The truth is that, as Professor Morrison said, “Really big problems need teams of a variety of experts to solve them,” and climate change is, arguably, the biggest problem we are currently facing on planet earth. To succeed, it is imperative to gain insight and perspectives from not just engineers, but social scientists, and those who may have a unique or helpful perspective.  

RGU researchers are working to hold community events in Greece, Denmark, and Romania where this CCUS technology would be implemented, to monitor how opinions towards it are changing. One of the objectives is to interview local residents, politicians, and schools about their understanding of Carbon Capture technology. When asked about this area of their work Dr Kostas Stavrianakis, a recent PhD graduate and researcher at RGU said: 

“It's vital that we know that the people understand those technologies, and if they will accept them because there's no purpose in investing in developing new technologies if their communities and the people will not use them. So, this is what we're doing here at RGU. We're looking at different communities, individuals, organizations and what they think of adopting such technologies.” 

The team have unfortunately faced some difficulties due to Covid-19, which has impacted their ability to contact the participants in the three countries where they are operating. The community events that are vital to their data cannot go ahead due to ever changing restrictions and conducting research during a global pandemic comes with an unprecedented number of delays. The team are hopeful however, and we are eager to see the result of this innovative project in years to come.

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