Risk communication of uncertain and ambiguous risks: comparison between theory and practice and recommendations for CO2 capture and storage in the Netherlands
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CO2 capture and storage (CCS) has been given high significance by the Dutch government as a measure to reach emissions reduction goals in the Netherlands, due to the advantageous characteristics the Netherlands possesses such as existing transport pipelines and empty gas reservoirs. Currently, the development of onshore CCS is in the demonstration phase, which will be followed by large-scale commercial projects by 2020. Nevertheless, CCS has been met with controversy among the stakeholders and the public. This thesis framed the problem as one of risk communication. Risks related to CCS are considered uncertain and ambiguous, in that differing risk perceptions of CCS stem from conflicts in knowledge and expertise as well as in worldviews and values among different experts and laymen groups. Drawing from the evidence-based literature on risk communication of CCS-like risks, this thesis developed hypotheses on strategies in the components of sources, participants, content and channels of risk communication that could increase its effectiveness. After comparing with the practice of risk communication, it was observed that although they were found to increase the effectiveness of risk communication, three of the hypotheses were not translated into practice in general, namely the credibility of funders, upstream engagement, and differentiation of the public. In reviewing of the current Dutch CCS risk communication practices, these gaps also applied to the Netherlands. At the end of the thesis, recommendations as to how to bridge the gaps for the Netherlands were given.