The main objective of this project is the understanding and mastery of the shaping and change of perceptions, attitudes, resistance, and other subjective features of the Brazilian population on both climate and technology issues for cleaner energy and its development in applications associated with NBS, CCU, CHG and BECCS

Social perception was always seen as an essential dimension of various energy issues. However, over the last decades, the energy industry and policy makers, particularly in the O&G industry, perceive that social perception is becoming a much more significant challenge that profoundly affects our energy future.

Energy research has been undergoing a major transition from the dominance of physical energy systems to a more challenging energy environment dominated by complex inquiries into the social dimensions of issues.

Energy research has been undergoing fundamental innovations by a proliferation of literature, concepts and theoretical frameworks on energy social science. Brazil is still late in this process, as we can see by the narrow focus given to societal issues in the recently issued seminal planning documents such as the 2050 National Energy Plan (Plano Nacional de Energia 2050).

Moreover, efforts on promoting new low-carbon technologies in Brazil are still basically taken in a very “technological and engineering perspective” with insufficient early attention due to how society may perceive and accept (or not) the proposed technologies.

The project aims to adopt the state-of-art approaches on energy social science that are mainly discussed in the Carbon Capture and Storage and fracking social research in the USA, UK, Europe, Canada and Australia, providing technologically innovative elements and scientific advance drawing upon concepts, methods and theories from a wide range of disciplines in social sciences as sociology, psychology, environmental psychology, anthropology, economy, politics, history and geography.

As the main challenge of the project, we expect that energy social science may provide critical insights into many global and local social problems related to energy production, distribution and consumption, such as social opposition to energy transformation and the public controversy about climate change. 

The specific applications of energy social science associated with NBS, CCU, CHG and BECCS are not yet explored in the literature.

They will be drawn and justified from recent historical experiences from the O&G industry both on the production of non-conventional resources with hydrofracking technologies and on the promotion of Carbon Capture and Storage of C02. Both cases, in many places, including Brazil, were poorly studied in terms of public perception.

As a result, the industry often was obliged to face severe and insurmountable increases in social resistance, local and often national, sometimes even international, delaying development agendas or even generating moratoria and definitive project cancellations. One example is the CCS Barendrecht project in the Netherlands cancelled due to unexpected public opposition (Feenstra, Mikunda and Brunsting, 2011; Ashworth et al., 2012).

In Brazil, an example of public opposition took place during the 12th bidding round promoted by the National Agency of Petroleum, Natural Gas and Biofuels (ANP) when auctioning 240 exploration blocks, including unconventional resources, held in 2013. The offer of unconventional blocks triggered opposition movements involving civil society and NGOs, which carried out campaigns against fracking that covered several municipalities and culminated in local and federal support, leading to the nullity of the round and suspension of contracts (Ramos, Petry and Costa, 2019).   

Experiences with Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) are particularly enlightening for this project as the technology proposition is very similar to the technological focuses of RCGI, i.e., NBS, CCU, CGH and BECCS. Those are technologies enabling the use of fossil fuels sustainably.

As a consequence of social theories application in the research of the perceptions of the diverse publics developed through this project, the O&G industry will be aware of potential favourable aspects and limitations towards the implementation of NBS, CCU, GHG, BECCS technologies in ways that enable the anticipation and action before the insurgence of social or political stress.

This knowledge will equip the decision-makers to establish the best paths towards the communication approaches to all publics, building trust and reputation, which may reduce financial drawbacks originated by the legislators, media or society resistance that jeopardise the implementation of such technologies.

It is essential to notice that the perceptions are impacted by the context, by the actions or inactions from stakeholders and many subjective factors, which require the constant view and review of the perception’s evolution during the timeframe of the development and implementation of the technologies.  

The Social Perception Project will also provide researchers, engineers and executives with the knowledge and the most appropriate ways to communicate their projects and interact with different audiences, providing them with tools to build trust and acceptance. 


Project Coordinator:
Sigmar Malvezzi – Psychology Institute/University of São Paulo

Deputy Coordinator:
Karen Louise Mascarenhas – Research Centre for Greenhouse Gas Innovation