Climate change is one of the major challenges of the coming decades, and presents an urgent need to limit global temperature rises to avoid catastrophic consequences. This will require drastic cuts in the levels of greenhouse gases (GHGs) in the atmosphere. However, worldwide energy needs are going to continue to rise, and fossil fuel combustion — the greatest source of carbon dioxide (CO2), the main GHG — will meet most of this demand for the foreseeable future. CCS technologies offer a way to reconcile these conflicting trends. By capturing the CO2 coming from industrial installations before it is released into the atmosphere, these technologies can make conventional energy sources much more climate friendly. However, if CCS is to help achieve the required cuts in global GHG emissions — estimated to be up to 80 % by 2050 — they will need speedy and large-scale adoption. An EU-funded research project, 'European carbon dioxide capture and storage laboratory infrastructure' (ECCSEL), joined leading research institutes from across Europe to prepare the research infrastructure needed to promote widespread CCS adoption. The initiative assessed critical issues in CCS and gaps in research capabilities, estimating that funding of around EUR 345 million will be needed in the period up to 2030. Project members have prepared the way for a permanent consortium of research institutes, industry and public authorities to work together in this area. Cooperation will be organised in two layers: a network of complementary laboratories, and a series of large-scale pilot projects and demo sites. ECCSEL has provided a starting point for a huge and vital effort to deliver sharp improvements in the sustainability of energy and industrial production needed to fight climate change.