Exploring paths and innovation in Norwegian carbon capture and storage policy

Environmental Policy and Governance, published online 29.05.2023, 12 p. DOI: 10.1002/eet.2068

Norway, a significant petroleum producer and exporter, has been a frontrunner within policies for carbon capture and storage (CCS). As CCS is recognized as a key technology forachieving the Paris climate policy targets,there is a clear need for more knowledge abouthow to design successful projects. Norway's first CCS policy initiative, the ambitious Mongstad project, was the result of a political compromise that was imposed from above, basically with one single company in control. The project was largely seen as a failure and was terminated in 2013. However, instead of dropping ambitions for developing CCS projects, the authorities launched a new policy soon afterwards. This policy evolved with the differently organized Longship CCS project as its core. Using a path-dependency perspective, we find that established institutional structures from the Mongstad project, combined withnational interests and expertise, help to explain the fundamental continuity of CCS policies in Norway. This explanation is supplemented by a policy-learning perspective, which helps to explain policy changes and differences between the two flagship CCS projects. The Longship project developed gradually ‘from below’; linked project responsibilities close to competences and interests; dealt with key risks separately to reduce the inherent complexity; and organized clear requirements up front. We hold that this way of designing CCS projects is of relevance to other countries considering CCS projects. Furthermore, by placing the Norwegian case in context of the development of EU and international climate policy we contribute a theoretical framework relevant also for subsequent research.