Capturing a cause and moving it on

Carbon Capture and Storage Association

“David obviously has a lot of experience in this space. He did his homework and turned up well prepared. He was challenging and tried to get people to come out of their comfort zone. We needed that and he handled it well.”

Luke Warren, CEO, CCSA

Carbon capture and storage (CCS) is an environmental protection process which involves capturing carbon emissions from power generation and industry and storing the carbon safely underground. In 2006 The Carbon Capture & Storage Association (CCSA) was launched to represent the industry and has since worked with various European organisations for the promotion of CCS. In 2019 it formed a consortium of national, regional, industrial and academic actors from around Europe, under the title IMPACTS9. This was the first time CCSA had led a consortium and they wanted someone neutral to come in and help them gain some clarity over their plan of action. One of their partners, CO2 Value Europe, had worked with David Saint and recommended Action Planning. After a tender process, we were selected.

CCSA wanted an external facilitator to run a workshop to develop the consortium’s Theory of Change and help to bring clarity to the role of IMPACTS9 and establish the next steps.

One part of our proposal that particularly impressed CCSA was the commitment to spending time prior to the workshop gathering insight from the 12 attendees, who were located in Norway and Belgium, as well as the UK. It meant David could turn up well prepared and pre-armed with knowledge of individual views about what they hoped the workshop would achieve. This helps to hit the ground running on the day and makes all delegates feel included from the word go.

David’s opening gambit was to challenge participants over certain negative stereotypes typical of European consortia. Issues such as high costs, too much jargon, labyrinthine structures, too much talking and very vague outcomes. David also made them think candidly about different audiences’ real levels of interest in ‘saving the planet’ – the point being that they needed to find a way to make the relevant authorities sit up and take notice. It wasn’t just going to happen.

An unusual departure at this point was offering delegates a choice of one of two routes to take for the rest of the workshop: either to come up with a standard Theory of Change; or to stand back and ask some ‘killer questions’ about the problem they wanted to solve, the change they wanted to make and the actions they needed to take. David had prepared content for both routes; the delegates chose the second.

The workshop served the purpose of getting everyone in IMPACTS9 together in the same room and thinking in a structured way. The outcome was a clear agreement on the real role of IMPACTS9, its goal, audience and head-line actions. They are now focused on delivering the project, beginning with some quick wins to highlight the consortium’s real world relevance.

Consultant’s insight:
This was a challenging assignment, because self-evidently I had very little understanding of the subject matter. I was completely baffled by the client’s acronyms, terminology and structures. But then I realised that this made me exactly the right person to challenge them and provoke more down-to-earth thinking, because the audiences with which they wished to communicate wouldn’t understand those things either!

I was a little anxious on the morning of the workshop knowing that a) I was completely out of my depth in terms of the subject and b) I was going to lob in quite a few ‘hand grenades’ to challenge their thinking. Happily they were an open-minded group, eager to explore new ways of thinking and communicating, and I think we came up with some good outcomes as a result.


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