Skip to main content
Climate Action

A legal framework for the safe geological storage of carbon dioxide

The directive on the geological storage of CO2 (so-called "CCS Directive") establishes a legal framework for the environmentally safe geological storage of CO2 to contribute to the fight against climate change. It covers all CO2 storage in geological formations in the EU and the entire lifetime of storage sites. It also contains provisions on the capture and transport components of CCS, though these activities are covered mainly by existing EU environmental legislation, such as the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) Directive or the Industrial Emissions Directive, in conjunction with amendments introduced by the CCS Directive.

Preventing risks to health or the environment

The CCS Directive lays down extensive requirements for the selecting sites for CO2 storage. A site can only be selected if a prior analysis shows that, under the proposed conditions of use, there is no significant risk of leakage or damage to human health or the environment.

No geological storage of CO2 will be possible without a storage permit.

Security of the transport network and storage sites

The substances captured to be stored must consist overwhelmingly of CO2 to prevent any adverse effects on the security of the transport network or the storage site. The operation of the site must be closely monitored and corrective measures taken in the case that leakage does occur.

The Directive also covers closure and post-closure obligations, and sets out criteria for the transfer of responsibility from the operator to the Member State.

Finally, the operator must establish a financial security before the injection of CO2 starts to ensure that the requirements of the CCS Directive and the Emissions Trading Directive can be met.

Relying on existing legal frameworks and removing barriers

Operators are included in the Emissions Trading System, which ensures that in case of leakage they have to surrender emission allowances for any resulting emissions. Liability for local damage to the environment is dealt with by using the Directive on Environmental Liability. Liability for damage to health and property is left for regulation at Member State level.

Furthermore, barriers to CCS in existing waste and water legislation are removed, and the Large Combustion Plants Directive is amended to require an assessment of capture-readiness for large plants.

The revised ETS Directive includes CCS explicitly in Annex I. Emissions captured, transported and stored according to this Directive will be considered as not emitted.

Report on review of the CCS Directive

The CCS Directive is in place since 2009 and had to be transposed into national law by June 2011. Article 38 requires that the European Commission reviews the Directive and presents a report to the European Parliament and Council. The report, in addition, evaluates the Directive for its effectiveness, efficiency, coherence, relevance and EU added value under the Commission's Regulatory Fitness and Performance (REFIT) programme.

The main finding of the report is that the CCS Directive is fit for purpose. Overall, and despite the limited information available so far on its practical application, the Directive provides the regulatory framework needed to ensure safe CO2 capture, transport and storage while allowing the Member States sufficient flexibility.

The review report of the CCS Directive is accompanying the annual Climate action progress report (COM(2015) 576 final).