10×10 Takes: Getting Down to Business at GxC with SevenGen’s Dani Kehler
Our upcoming event, GLOBExCHANGE (Feb. 27-Mar. 1, 2023) builds on our recently published 10×10 Matrix, which identifies the 10 areas where we need to take action in the next 10 years to get to net zero.
In our 10×10 Takes video series we’re talking with climate leaders who are working to advance these action areas. Watch this installment as we get down to business on ensuring youth are engaged to centre Indigenous Leadership, Engagement, & Ways of Knowing with Dani Kehler, Manager at SevenGen.
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Elizabeth Shirt Welcomes the World to GLOBExCHANGE
GLOBE Series’ President, Elizabeth Shirt, is excited to get down to business and win the race to net zero at GLOBExCHANGE (Feb. 27-Mar. 1, 2023)! Explore new sessions added to the preliminary program, dive into the 10×10, and register by Dec. 15 to take advantage of Early Bird rates.
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COP27 Reflections with Canada’s Ambassador for Climate Change
Earlier this month at COP27 in Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt, Canada hosted its first-ever Pavilion, featuring 200+ climate leaders and 80+ unique events that showcased the breadth and diversity of Canadian climate action. Hot on the heels of the world’s biggest climate summit, Canada’s Ambassador for Climate Change, Catherine Stewart, reconnected with GLOBE’s very own Elizabeth Shirt to reflect on key outcomes and challenges coming out of COP27, and what’s next for Canada at the COP15 Biodiversity Conference in Montréal (Dec. 7, 2022 – Dec. 19, 2022).
Join us in Toronto at GLOBExCHANGE (Feb. 27 – Mar. 1, 2023) to continue these vital conversations, invest in international collaboration, and exchange the solutions, skillsets, and dollars that will help advance Canada’s ambitious climate goals both at home and abroad: http://www.globexchange.ca/
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Top 5 tips for running sustainability events during COVID-19 (and beyond)
By Elizabeth Shirt, Managing Director – GLOBE Series
When I joined GLOBE Series as Managing Director in early 2020, I was super excited. I knew GLOBE had been producing sustainability and climate events for over three decades, and I wanted to be part of the next chapter. After all, we have no time to lose on the road to creating a net-zero, equitable future. I knew that GLOBE events would be where critical conversations and collaboration took root.
What I couldn’t have predicted was a global pandemic that shook the event industry – among many others – to its core. We quickly pivoted to offering virtual events, and were pleasantly surprised to find that many partners and clients were keen to engage us on everything from programming to technical platforms. Our event services are now a permanent part of what we offer.
After two years of virtual events, I guess we shouldn’t have been surprised by what came next: a huge pent-up demand for getting together in person. GLOBE Forum, which has happened every two years for the past 30, sold out for the first time in its history. We had thousands of people register for in-person and virtual programming. With all that behind us and a huge amount of work to do in the next decade, I’d like to offer our top learnings that you can apply to your own sustainability and climate events.
#1: In-person events aren’t dead
After two years of Zoom meetings from our home offices, I guess we shouldn’t have been surprised at the tremendous interest in getting together in person at GLOBE Forum. People REALLY wanted to see each other after all that time, and the importance of human connection really came through in both our ticket sales and the vibe at the event itself.
How do you make the most of this desire to connect, which in turn fuels more collaboration and innovation? When you’re creating your program, don’t just think about who’s on the stage, think about who is in the room. Consider how you can help your attendees connect with each other – not only in your official programming, but outside of it.
For example, at GLOBE Forum we offered recharge lounges, meeting pods, and multiple networking events. These are where the magic happens…where else can a Chief Sustainability Officer of a multinational company get the opportunity to talk policy with a federal or provincial policymaker? Or a small company with big ambitions become part of the climate conversation? There were so many instances just like this at Forum.
For the first time ever, we also hosted an in-demand “Meet the experts” session with our colleagues from The Delphi Group. This was another way that we leveraged our own connections to help other companies make connections that will help them do what they do even better.
#2: If you’re not thinking about equity and access, start now
You can’t get away with all-white manels anymore. We will and should be held accountable for the people on stage, virtual or otherwise. Plus, if we’re going to build a better future, we need to have all the voices at the table – taking into account age, racial and gender identity, and differently abled perspectives.
At GLOBE Forum, we set and met speaker diversity targets. We considered what it really means to acknowledge the land we are gathering on. We also made sure to create space for First Nations leaders — who represent peoples who called Vancouver home well before any of us lived, worked or played here — to open the event, welcome us to their traditional territories, and talk about why sustainability is fundamental to their communities (and has been for centuries).
Could we do better? Absolutely, and we will keep the pressure on ourselves to ensure all our events are as inclusive as possible. If you’re considering an event, we encourage you to do the same.
In terms of event accessibility, providing virtual and hybrid options was definitely a huge step forward for us at Forum. Fortunately, we were able to leverage the expertise we’d gleaned during two years of the pandemic. We also ensured our event was accessible to a broad and diverse audience by providing targeted discounts for students, not-for-profits and under-represented groups.
#3: It’s not easy being green….but do it anyway
Ensuring your in-person event is sustainable is more and more important to your stakeholders – and is even more important if your audience lives and breathes sustainability, as ours does. There are a bunch of things you can do to work towards net zero, such as:
- Select a green venue. For example, GLOBE Forum takes place in the Vancouver Convention Centre, which is the world’s first double LEED Platinum certified convention centre.
- Ensure your badges are recyclable.
- Offer catering linked to sustainable food sources and local suppliers.
- Consider going paper-free by offering your program online only.
- Consider a fully virtual event OR partner with a credible offsets provider to mitigate the emissions associated with in-person events. We partnered with Ostrom Climate at GLOBE Forum to mitigate our event-related emissions.
Our mission is to provide events that are as green and sustainable as possible. We still have some work to do, but asking the right questions from the start is key to making progress.
#4: Go beyond a chatfest…link your event to outcomes and action
The learnings and best practices that people can glean from speakers and fellow attendees at events have a lot of value. However, with less than a decade to make urgent progress towards a net-zero future, we need to go beyond talk to action and impact. This is also what will make your event that much more compelling than another Zoom webinar.
At GLOBE Forum, we not only offered GLOBE Advances – deep-dive workshops on our key themes – but very intentionally built our program around the 10×10 Action Plan: the 10 actions in 10 years we need to take to get to net zero. The 10×10 will be developed out of the discussions that took place at GLOBE Forum and will specify WHAT needs to happen and WHO needs to do it on the road to net zero. These actions will be unpacked at future GLOBE events with the goal of ensuring accountability and impact. Read more about the 10×10 here.
#5: Take 5 after your event is over
There is nothing quite like putting on an event. It’s a high-intensity and high-stress undertaking. It’s really important to acknowledge that and to build it into your calendar in a way that won’t over-tax your team – such as ensuring they can take a breather when the event is over. Think about what’s going to be your best quarter for planning, your best quarter for implementation, and your best quarter for recovery.
It’s also important to define rules of engagement when things get stressful and so that you can stay true to your culture and values. This can really sustain you when the team is going a million miles an hour in a high-intensity environment.
Are you thinking about offering an in-person, hybrid or virtual event, workshop or presentation? We can help!
For more information about how we can partner with you to deliver your next sustainability event, reach out to our Senior Manager, Event Partnerships, Caroline Vanesse, directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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The 10×10 Explained by Elizabeth Shirt, Managing Director of GLOBE Series
What is the 10×10?
It’s a framework we’re bringing to GLOBE Forum 2022 to drive action, impact and outcomes. How it works:
- Step 1: GLOBE Forum sessions will tease out the actions we need to take to get to net zero. Dedicated notetakers will document these and then distill them by theme.
- Step 2: At GLOBE Advance, which takes place on the final day of Forum, we’ll work together to sift through the proposed actions and prioritize what needs to be done to accelerate a net-zero future.
- Step 3: The outcomes from these discussions will feed into the 10×10 summary report: the plan that identifies the 10 actions in 10 years that we need to take to get to net zero. In other words, the net-zero roadmap for Canada.
Why the 10×10?
We’re done talking about if, why or whether we need to get to net zero by 2050. Now it’s about the HOW. But 2050 still feels a long way off for some people, so the 10×10 is all about creating urgency and momentum for action in the next decade.
What we need to do is one thing…the 10×10 is also about who needs to do it, and creating accountability for specific actions. Here at GLOBE, we will hold ourselves accountable for tackling and further unpacking priorities at future GLOBE events. As we have for 30 years, we will bring people together in innovative ways to drive action, but we can’t do it alone. We’re calling on our partners to help us build a better future.
How can people get involved in the 10×10?
First of all, make sure you stick around for GLOBE Advance on March 31st to participate in a facilitated, hands-on discussion on the GLOBE program theme of your choice. In-person participants at GLOBE Forum 2022 will have the opportunity to choose from six action-oriented sessions on:
- Innovation and Adoption
- Policy, Regulation, and Corporate Governance
- Finance and Investment
- Just Transition
- Beyond Net Zero
- Local Solutions to Net Zero
It’s an incredible opportunity to work with fellow leaders and practitioners from across North America to accelerate a net-zero future.
Second, make the most of your time while at Forum. Use the networking and think spaces, the program sessions, and the Marketplace to connect and collaborate with our unparalleled community. The beauty of GLOBE Forum is the big tent, and we need all of you to share your ideas if we’re going to get to net zero.
Finally, partner with us. The 10×10 journey doesn’t end with GLOBE Forum. We invite you to help us advance and accelerate any of the actions on the 10×10, whether it’s at a future GLOBE event or other type of activity. Let’s get ‘er done!
Participation in GLOBE Advance is included in your GLOBE Forum All-Access Pass. Attendees with Virtual Passes will have an opportunity to review the 10×10 summary report before it goes public.
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On the Road to a Net Zero Economy, We Can’t Forget About People
Guest content by Christine Bergeron, President and CEO of Vancity.
As British Columbians begin to rebuild from the wreckage of the latest extreme weather event, it’s clear that the climate emergency is here. To prevent further warming that will result in even more catastrophic consequences for people and the planet, we need to focus our efforts and ingenuity on the transition to a net-zero economy. This transition was the focus of the most recent global climate summit, COP26, and will continue to be front and center in the decades leading up to 2050. There are tremendous economic upsides to getting it right: a trillion-dollar economic opportunity, new jobs, and a boon for innovative solutions and products.
It’s clear that the climate crisis, and the actions we take to address it, affect every one of us. But not everyone is affected equally. As we build our net-zero future, it is critical to consider what human shape this economic transition will take. We’ve seen this movie before. Following the 2008 recession, the economy rebounded quite strongly. People? Not so much. Many were left jobless or in worse jobs than before the recession. Wages eroded and debt levels skyrocketed while housing became increasingly unaffordable for many.
We can’t allow this to happen again, especially since the reverberations of this transition are going to last longer than any recession. We won’t be successful if people are alienated from the climate fight because they pay a hefty price for the transition – for example, those who are already economically disadvantaged, or people and communities whose livelihood depends on emissions-heavy industries that we must now turn away from.
Canada, in particular, must be mindful of addressing the human costs of a net-zero transition. A recent study found that sectors vulnerable to the impact of this transition account for 70% of Canada’s exports, and more than $300bn in export revenues and investments. In human terms, that translates to 800,000 Canadian jobs located in every province and territory.
Those are just the employment impacts. Not everyone has the same ability to withstand the impacts and adapt to the new net-zero “normal.” We can’t successfully transition to a net-zero economy if only those who can afford to adapt make it through the transition intact.
A People-First Approach to Net Zero
We have to approach the net-zero transition through a people-first lens. What does this mean? It means identifying how the climate emergency, and our responses to it, are impacting people – for example, workers and communities relying on high-emissions sectors. It means understanding how existing systemic barriers and inequities make those impacts worse for some people, or limit their ability to mitigate and adapt – for example, lower-income people living in higher-risk neighborhoods because those same climate risks are making homes there more affordable. And it means having a plan of action for governments, businesses, unions, and communities to work together to address this head-on.
In Canada, a people-first approach is especially critical in the energy sector, traditionally a key driver of Canada’s economy. It’s clear we must transition most of our energy production to clean-energy sources. Prime Minister Trudeau announced at COP26 that “Canada has set a goal of selling only zero-emission cars and establishing a net-zero emissions electricity grid by 2035.” Arguably this is not soon enough based on global warming projections, and yet is also very aggressive based on how long it has taken to make major industry shifts in the past.
Converting Energy Risks to Opportunities in Canada
Renewables currently provide only about 16% of Canada’s total supply of energy for electricity, heating and transportation. While that’s a higher proportion than what we see globally (13.4%) or in OECD countries (10.5%), it demonstrates just how much change needs to occur in order to meet our international commitments and to truly shift to a net-zero economy.
There’s a similar mix of room for change and potential for growth in clean-energy exports. The global renewable energy market had total revenues of $692.8bn (USD) in 2020, representing a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 8.9% between 2016 and 2020. Canada’s clean-energy exports totaled only $21bn in 2019. This represents an annual growth rate of 9.7% since 2014, three times faster than all Canadian product exports over the same period. But clean-energy exports still totaled only 5.5% of Canada’s product exports in 2019.
There is a clear opportunity for the Canadian economy as it begins to wean itself off oil and gas. Industry advocates expect that by 2030, Canada’s clean-energy sector will grow its GDP by 58% and its workforce by nearly 50%, adding more than 200,000 jobs. This growth will help offset the effects of oil-and-gas contraction at the macro level.
The question is, can Canada translate this growth into real opportunities for those people and communities who are no longer able to rely on oil and gas for their livelihoods, such as oil-and-gas workers, equipment suppliers and other local service providers? How do we reskill these individuals to capitalize on the new job opportunities? And how do we ensure that groups that were historically left out of the oil-and-gas boom, such as First Nations members and women, are included in the new energy growth opportunity?
There needs to be a deliberate effort on the part of governments, the private sector, workers and communities to make this transition fair – and successful. Re-skilling initiatives and building worker awareness of their transferable skills have been developed by both unions and non-union organizations, such as Iron & Earth. Scaling up and fully resourcing such initiatives will require collaboration between governments and employers.
Ensuring that Canada’s clean-energy future proceeds through true partnership with Indigenous peoples is also critical to advancing both the just transition and Reconciliation. The clean-energy sector is increasingly recognizing this. As of Nov 11, 2021, Indigenous Clean Energy (ICE) – a pan-Canadian social enterprise working to advance Indigenous inclusion in Canada’s energy futures economy – has mapped 197 clean-energy projects across Canada that have significant Indigenous involvement. ICE notes that these projects are generating jobs and training opportunities for Indigenous people, and providing a more consistent flow of revenue to meet community needs.
The Role of Financial Institutions in the Net-Zero Transition
It is imperative that financial institutions change what they fund. This means transitioning from emissions-heavy industries to cleaner jobs and industries, as well as factoring climate risks and social benefits into the assessment of loan requests and investment decisions. Financial institutions can also do more to support businesses in identifying and disclosing climate-related risks.
The climate crisis also requires that financial institutions put people first. This means helping people access and manage their finances when forced from their communities by severe climate events, such as the recent flooding in Merritt and Princeton or the forest fire at Lytton. Financial institutions can also use the tools at their disposal to encourage just-transition initiatives and lead systemic change.
For example, we introduced Canada’s first Responsible Investment (RI) mutual fund 35 years ago, and we became the first financial institution in North America to be carbon neutral in our operations nearly 15 years ago. Today, RI is an entrenched component of the investment world, and significant reductions in operational emissions are part of most large Canadian banks’ climate-action plans. We continue to finance changemakers in areas such as affordable housing, green technology, equity, and financial inclusion.
These examples highlight how the private sector can show leadership in support of a just transition. But more support is required. Systemic challenges need system-wide solutions, and such solutions require governments to also step up and lead, putting people first. That is the next key step for the just transition.
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GLOBE Capital Q&A: Jon Mitchell, Vice President, Sustainability, Suncor
Jon Mitchell, Vice President, Sustainability, Suncor joined the panel on Digital Transformation: Enabler or Enemy of a Resilient Future at GLOBE Capital to discuss the nexus of the energy transformation and digitalization. The months since the conference have been busy for Mr. Mitchell, with Suncor’s Investor Day in May and the launch of the Oil Sands Pathways to Net Zero initiative in June, followed by the company’s annual Report on Sustainability and Climate issued in July. We followed up with Mr. Mitchell to learn more about what net zero means for Suncor.
In late spring, you held your 2021 Investor Day and your strategy figured prominently. Tell us about your sustainability plans within the context of your strategy.
Our strategy is to be Canada’s leading energy company by growing our business in low greenhouse gas (GHG) fuels, electricity, and hydrogen, while sustaining and optimizing our existing hydrocarbon business and transforming our GHG footprint. All of this is enabled by our expertise, long-life resources, integrated business model, strong connection to customers, and world-class environment, social and governance (ESG) performance. It’s important to note that we don’t have a separate sustainability strategy—sustainability and the energy transition are integrated within the business strategy. It was our objective at the outset to ensure they were neither distinct from one another nor independent conversations.
As part of our strategy, one of our six strategic objectives is to become a net–zero company by 2050. To get there, we will be reducing emissions from our base business; expanding our low–emissions power, renewable fuels and hydrogen businesses; and working with our customers, suppliers and other stakeholders on reducing emissions elsewhere. To measure our progress, we’ve set a new target to reduce emissions across our value chain by 10 MT per year by 2030.
ESG investing has recently expanded into a USD$30 trillion-plus business. We’ve seen more and more investors seizing opportunities in the clean economy and advocating for the disclosure of climate-related business risks through the Task Force on Climate-Related Disclosure (TCFD), for example. How has this impacted investor relations at Suncor? Are your sustainability and IR teams working more closely together?
We’re fortunate that our investor relations and sustainability teams have always had a close working relationship, and over the past few years the collaboration between our teams has grown even more. Along with my colleagues from finance, I regularly meet with our investors, bankers, and insurers to discuss all aspects of our climate strategy, ESG performance and our actions to continually improve our disclosure. This is to ensure that we are meeting the needs of the investment community and that they have the information they need to make informed decisions about the material ESG issues that are shaping our business.
Suncor was an early adopter of the Sustainability Accounting Standards Board (SASB) oil and gas standards. We were also the first oil company in North America to signal support for the TCFD. We recently published our fifth stand-alone climate report and have been continuously progressing our alignment with the TCFD recommendations.
The Canadian government has committed to net-zero carbon emissions by 2050, alongside over 100 countries and many of the world’s largest corporations. To achieve this target on a global scale, the latest International Energy Agency (IEA) report recommends no new oil and gas developments. What does a net-zero future mean for Suncor and its sustainability strategy?
The drive to accelerate climate ambitions and net-zero commitments, both by governments and industry, is going to materially shift corporate strategies for decades to come. Suncor continues to progress along our sustainability journey and our strategy reflects our view of what is required to thrive as the energy system shifts to realize a net–zero future. Suncor’s strategy is aligned with the Paris Agreement and recognizes the need for the world to reach net–zero emissions by 2050. We also support Canada’s efforts to develop enabling policies, fiscal programs and regulations to provide predictability for the long-term, large-scale investments needed to achieve our country’s net–zero aspirations. Our purpose—to provide trusted energy while caring for each other and the earth—signals our intention to be a leading player in the energy transition. For us, that means reducing emissions in our base business and continuing to expand into low–GHG lines of business while working with customers and suppliers to help them reduce their emissions.
In their report, the IEA presents what it emphasizes is one possible route toward net–zero emissions in the energy sector. It should not be construed as a recommendation, but rather a scenario, and not the only scenario to realize the net–zero future we are all aspiring to achieve. Suncor continues to explore multiple scenarios and opportunities to reach net–zero emissions. Suncor also considers other key guidance, including the 2018 1.5°C report from the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) that outlined 90 possible scenarios for reaching net-zero emissions. In the end, all sectors must reduce their emissions substantially and as quickly as possible, and the oil sands sector is no exception. In Canada, the oil sands sector has set itself the goal of doing exactly this through its recent Pathways announcement.
The oil sands sector is well positioned to advance the technology, innovation, and investment needed to reach net zero. To bet otherwise underestimates the determination and talent that exists in these companies, and the power in the art of the possible.
Canada’s Net Zero Future report by the Canadian Institute for Climate Choices suggests there is a role for both safe bets (established solutions) and wild cards (unproven yet innovative tech) on the road to net zero. In terms of reducing emissions, what are the safe bets for Suncor and what are the wild cards?
As a company with a long history of successful innovation and technology development, we think the framing of safe bets and wild cards has the potential to oversimplify or discount solutions. Reducing emissions and preventing climate change is one of the most challenging and complex issues facing the world today. It will require tremendous innovation, collaboration, and all kinds of technologies, some of which have not been invented yet. We encourage a multitude of options because, as history has shown us, what is perceived as a wild card today may be a sure bet tomorrow—and vice versa. For example, in 1900, the electric car would have been considered a safe bet and the internal combustion engine a wild card. In the 1990s, the electric car would have been a wild card, but today it is a safe bet. To build on the analogy used by the CICC, in the card games I’ve played, the wild cards are the most powerful cards in the deck, so we shouldn’t underestimate the role they will play in realizing our climate objectives. Ultimately to win, or in this case meet our objectives, all cards in the deck need to be played.
There is an opportunity to empower and employ people who have been historically underrepresented in the energy sector—women, people of colour, and Indigenous peoples for example. What is Suncor doing to ensure that future talent and diverse perspectives are part of the energy future?
As a people-focused and purpose-driven company, we have a strong emphasis on diversity and inclusion, ensuring women, people of colour and Indigenous peoples feel included and represented in our workforce. Recent conversations and events over the last few years are shedding an even greater light on how critically important this is in our society and encouraging us to do more to address systemic racism and reconciliation with Indigenous peoples. We’re learning more as a company and offering programs, training, and forums to challenge our blind spots and our own biases to create a workplace that’s a great place for everyone.
We recently refreshed our social goal to the Journey of Reconciliation to reflect our continued transformation both within our organization and in our relationships with Indigenous peoples. It’s a journey that will require hard work and some uncomfortable reflections, but it’s necessary. It will require us to further foster a culture of inclusion, humility, and honesty, as well as a willingness to shift our mindsets and behaviours. On a personal note, I’ve had the privilege of participating in some of our Indigenous-led education programs that help to build a deeper understanding of the rich culture and history of Indigenous Peoples in Canada. Often when these experiential learning opportunities conclude, there is not a dry eye in the room. These have been some of the most powerful experiences in my career and have helped me on my own reconciliation, inclusion and diversity journey. I encourage all Canadians to seek out opportunities of their own to learn about Indigenous Peoples, their history and culture.
What does the just transition mean for Suncor?
We are always thinking about the impact of energy development on people and communities and that won’t change in the future. It is clear we can’t look at the energy transition through a single lens. We need to take a systems approach and recognize the economic, environmental, and social implications of the transition. This will open our minds to new ideas and expand our understanding of what the transition means to our country, our citizens and all the sectors of our economy—not just energy.
We believe the best way to manage impacts or major change is to be open and transparent and to seek input from those affected. Accounting for the impacts to people in energy development will continue to be critical to our success and the resilience of our business through the transition.
We’ve learned a lot from partnerships with Indigenous Peoples and communities and know that we often haven’t gotten it right in the past. We are committed to continuing to learn and make changes in our business through the Journey of Reconciliation. This includes efforts to further partner with Indigenous businesses and communities, strengthen Indigenous workforce and inclusion, incorporate Indigenous worldviews, and partner with Indigenous youth.
When it comes to communities, we have evolved our approach from simple philanthropy to working much more deeply alongside community partners to tackle complex social issues together. This social innovation approach is exemplified by the efforts of the Suncor Energy Foundation, with the goal of supporting communities near our operations to grow, thrive, and build long-term resilience.
We’re also committed to ensuring employees have the training and skills needed to work in the technology-enabled future. We think these skills will be foundational in the future and will help enable the future we are all seeking, regardless of the sector.
The energy transition will take many decades and our intention is to help shape and play a leadership role in the process and to be a trusted provider of energy now and in the future. Through that process, we will work with our employees and communities to manage the transition.
What is the greatest opportunity in sustainability in the next 10 years?
Throughout my career I’ve always enjoyed the challenges and opportunities presented by work in sustainability. The combination of complexity, impact, and values means that success makes a big difference. When I look out over the next ten years, I believe there will be an opportunity to improve sustainability outcomes at an unprecedented pace. The convergence of sustainable finance, corporate ambition, and social engagement brings together the ingredients we need to realize our climate and sustainability goals. I’m very optimistic because I see businesses mobilizing effort and collaboration on these challenges like never before; significant capital being mobilized to accelerate innovation by traditional sectors and emerging ones; engagement with Indigenous communities and youth unlocking new potential partnerships; top talent within firms is being deployed to develop solutions; and companies creating a sense of purpose that goes beyond the balance sheet. This combination of factors creates the potential to re-write our relationship with the environment and with each other. If we’re smart, we have the opportunity to implement solutions that will reduce our impact on the environment and lead to cleaner air and water, less waste, more forests, greater diversity, more liveable cities, healthier food choices, and a renewed value on nature. The possibilities for a better quality of life are endless and that’s what excites me about working in this area.
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Q&A with Andrea Brecka, GM Retail, Director & Vice President, Shell Canada
With over 1,300 Shell stations in Canada, filling up under that bright red and yellow sign is a weekly ritual for many Canadians. It’s also one of the activities that generates the most carbon emissions—a quarter of Canada’s carbon footprint is attributed to transportation. Consumers know this and they’re continuing to demand new solutions to reduce their emissions. As GM of Shell’s retail fuels division in Canada, Andrea Brecka leads the company’s efforts to put the customer first. We caught up with her to learn more about how Shell is investing in innovation to transform what it means to “fill ‘er up”.
You have joined the Canadian government, 100 other countries and many of the world’s largest corporations in committing to net-zero emissions by 2050. To achieve this target on a global scale, the latest International Energy Agency report recommends no new oil and gas developments. What does a net-zero future mean for Shell?
Climate change is a very urgent challenge and tackling it requires a fundamental transformation of the global economy, including the energy system. That’s why Shell has stepped forward to set a net-zero-by-2050 target in lockstep with society’s progress and the Paris Agreement.
How will we do that? We’ve identified six levers to help Shell and our customers decarbonize:
- Reducing emissions in our operations.
- Shifting to natural gas.
- Growing a low-carbon power business to provide more renewable electricity and electric vehicle charging points.
- Providing low-carbon fuels, such as biofuels or hydrogen.
- Developing carbon capture and storage, which we’ve already started in Canada.
- Using natural carbon sinks like forests to absorb greenhouse gas emissions.
In terms of the IEA conclusions, they’re based on scenarios and, therefore the demand and supply modeling varies. Shell’s oil production peaked in 2019. Further, we don’t foresee any frontier explorations beyond 2025. All to say, this net-zero commitment is critical for Shell.
I understand Shell Canada has taken steps to reduce Scope 3 emissions. Could you share more about this strategy and why it’s important?
Absolutely. I think it’s fundamentally important that everybody understands what we mean by Scope 1, 2, and 3. We define Scope 1 and 2 as the emissions generated from the extraction and production of the energy products we sell. Scope 3 emissions are generated by the end use of these products. Many people are surprised that more than 90% of Shell’s emissions are Scope 3. The other element that people may not know is that Shell sells many products from other companies, including energy products. In fact, we sell more than three times the energy we produce ourselves. This is why it’s significant that Shell has chosen a commitment to reduce Scope 3 emissions.
I’ll share an example of how we’re helping our customers reduce emissions. Last year, we were the very first fuels retailer in Canada to launch a Drive Carbon Neutral program for our customers to help offset emissions from fuel purchases. Most recently, we’ve announced that carbon-neutral lubricants will be available to customers in key markets, including Canada. This program will offset approximately 700,000 tonnes of CO2 emissions per year.
Tell us more about your new carbon-neutral driving offer.
For a number of years, many customers have been telling us they’re interested in reducing their carbon footprint, but an electric vehicle (EV) is not an option at this time. The Drive Carbon Neutral program helps them have an impact even if they don’t own an EV. It’s very simple to participate: from now until Sept. 7, when customers opt in via the Shell EasyPay app, Shell will offset the emissions from their fuel purchase. It’s a great experience and I highly encourage all our customers to participate.
Alternatively, customers can come inside the store at participating locations and pay 2 cents per litre to offset their emissions. What happens after that? Shell purchases independently verified carbon credits that are generated from either Canadian or international projects designed to protect or restore the natural landscape.
I’m happy to say that, since the launch of this program, we have offset approximately 15 million litres of fuel. The customer feedback is overwhelmingly positive. We’re continuing to evolve the offer and there will be more to come later this year. Stay tuned!
Consumer demand for alternative fuels is growing. How is Shell supporting innovation to meet that demand?
As I referenced earlier, it’s important to be in lockstep with customer demands. In Canada, I’m proud to say that we’ve not only embraced, but I feel like we embody the energy transition. In the last five years, we have transitioned our business from heavy oil to natural gas, we’ve implemented carbon capture and storage here in Alberta, and we continue to do more and more with respect to lower-carbon fuels and renewables. We’re also making a much wider range of lower-carbon products available, such as biofuels and hydrogen, while also increasing the number of charge points for battery electric vehicles.
To give a hydrogen example, Shell has partnered with a hydrogen technology and energy company called HTEC to build two hydrogen refueling stations in the greater Vancouver area. On the biofuels side, there are a couple of innovation examples. We have a 40% interest in the $875 million commercial-scale Varennes carbon recycling plant—the first ever waste-to-low-carbon-fuels plant in Quebec. Secondly, Shell Ventures has made an equity investment in Forge Hydrocarbons Corporation to build a first-of-its-kind $30 million commercial-scale biofuel production plant in Ontario. We’ve also acquired Greenlots, an EV solutions provider, and we will be building EV charging stations across Canada and in the U.S. These are just a few examples of investments Shell has made to advance innovation and accelerate progress.
It’s 2030. I pull into a Shell station. What does it look like?
I think the future retail station will have a mosaic of solutions. Certainly, when you think about the kinds of fueling offers, EV, hydrogen, and biofuels will be standard. We will build future retail stations to be carbon neutral, perhaps taking advantage of solar panels or geothermal power. Lastly, I think about our customers. We have a vision to provide an oasis within the store. In 2030, we’ll have great lounge areas with wifi for people to connect or catch up on some work. In addition to the foods and beverages we have now, we’ll also offer healthier solutions for our customers. We think of our retail stations as not just fueling vehicles, but fueling bodies and minds.
How is Shell addressing calls for a just transition? And as a former president of Shell Canada’s Women’s Network, what role do you see for diversity and inclusion as we transition to a clean economy?
I’m proud to say that when Shell looks at projects like LNG in new areas, we work hard to get to know the communities. That means understanding the community’s wants, meeting its workforce, and addressing local partnerships in a way that’s fair, just, and inclusive.
In my work in the retail business last year, we launched the Fuel Service app. For most of us, fueling your car is a seamless experience, but for some individuals with disabilities, it can be daunting. To address that challenge, we partnered with Fuel Service. Now, individuals have the ability to call ahead and see if a retail station is able to assist them in their fueling.
I’ve worked with Shell for almost three decades. One of the reasons I’ve been here as long as I have is because Shell believes in and takes action on diversity, inclusion, and equity. Even in the last year, Shell is going through a major reorganization and we’ve made a very intentional effort to ensure our leadership team is diverse. This has been wonderful. Everybody wants role models to look up to. Diversity means better quality decisions and better business outcomes.
If you could invite three people, either alive today or no longer with us, to a conversation about the future of energy in Canada, who would they be?
I love this question. I thought long and hard about it. One would be Brian Mulroney. I saw him speak at a Pollution Probe gala last year and in his speech, he said “Successful leaders do not impose unpopular ideas on the public. They make unpopular ideas acceptable to the nation, and that takes courage.” When I think about his legacy of really tackling tough environmental challenges and what he’s been able to accomplish, it’s very inspiring. I would love to ask him how he managed the many challenges and different stakeholders to ultimately make progress.
I also thought about Generation Z and my two young adult daughters. When I think about that generation and what’s important to them, I would love to start a conversation about what they think about companies like Shell. How do they see us playing a role in tackling climate change? I’d love to just listen to their perspectives and have a debate.
Lastly, Elon Musk is a pioneer and a visionary. He’s courageous, bold, and willing to fail fast to make progress. Wow. For a company like Shell that’s undertaking transformational changes, learning from someone who is willing to take a risk to commercialize ideas would be fascinating.
GLOBE Capital Q&A: Jonathan Fowlie, Chief External Relations Officer, Vancity Credit Union
“We must work towards a climate transition that puts people at its centre and leaves no one behind,” Vancity proclaims as part of its commitment to net-zero by 2040. After a year when our environment and social safety nets were tested like never before, this approach seems very timely. Jonathan Fowlie, Chief External Relations Officer, Vancity Credit Union, joined No One Left Behind: How We Build a Just Transition to the Net-Zero Economy at GLOBE Capital to discuss the role of financial institutions in supporting a just transition. We caught up with Mr. Fowlie to learn more about how Vancity has integrated an equity lens into its climate commitments.
Tell us more about Vancity’s net-zero commitments.
We’ve recently released five commitments on climate action and climate justice that take a holistic approach to how we as a financial institution can respond to the climate emergency. It starts with decarbonization and getting our lending portfolio to net-zero. We’re also working to enable responsible investments that create a clean and fair future. This past year has exemplified how a global event can widen the systemic gaps in our economy. The climate emergency is having and could have a similar impact. We’re applying this systemic view to climate change to anticipate community and economic impacts.
Earlier this year, Vancity became the first financial institution in Canada to make a commitment to net-zero emissions by 2040 across your full lending portfolio. To ensure success, you’ve gone one step further by also committing to regular targets on the road to 2040—the first of which will be in 2025. How will you set that 2025 target?
In its most basic form, Vancity was carbon neutral across our operations in 2008. We know we can have a much greater impact on reducing emissions by extending this commitment to what we finance, i.e. the loans we give people to buy homes or start businesses. Our 2025 target will aim to reduce these finance-related emissions.
The first step is understanding the carbon footprint of our loans. If you have a Vancity mortgage on your house, what are your emissions and how do we record that? Our most recent annual report discloses the emissions that we estimate to be associated with our loans. The next step, which we’re undertaking right now, is a rigorous science-based process to understand Vancity’s pathway to net zero with that inclusive lens in mind. Once we identify that pathway, we’ll engage government to ensure we’re aligning with current regulations. Then, we’ll be ready to publicly commit to targets that are aggressive, achievable, and science-based.
What actions is Vancity taking to incorporate equity into its climate work and why do you think it’s important that we include equity in climate finance conversations?
Getting to net zero is important. How we get there is essential. As I mentioned earlier, the pandemic has shown us the impact a global event can have on marginalized communities. We also saw how a financial institution like Vancity can immediately meet those needs. We have a history of financial inclusion—of trying to serve the underserved. That approach has become all the more relevant during the pandemic.
For example, on Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside, health restrictions have interrupted a lot of the services that residents rely on. In the first months of the pandemic, various levels of government introduced new and increased benefits to support the safety and well-being of vulnerable and hard-hit individuals. As a financial institution, our role is to form a bridge between the resources being made available and the people who need to access them.
Our Pigeon Park Savings branch was the only financial institution in the Downtown Eastside that stayed open during the height of the pandemic. We see this as an illustration of financial inclusion and how it can ensure systemic gaps aren’t widened in extreme situations.
We’re taking the same approach to the climate emergency with a view to ensuring the transition to a clean economy will be equitable and just. That means talking a little bit less about decarbonization and climate and more about understanding existing inequities and of course, including marginalized communities in that conversation.
When it comes to the just transition, what do you think is the biggest opportunity and the biggest challenge?
The biggest challenge is ensuring the transition is just. What do I mean by that? We’re at a place where we look ahead to the effects of climate change and we’re still not entirely clear on the questions we need to ask, the things we need to measure, and the actions we need to take. Some are apparent, but some, as we saw during the pandemic, emerge as secondary and tertiary issues. How do we ensure we can adjust and be flexible?
Conversely, the biggest opportunity is to re-imagine our economy. How can we shift, innovate, create leaders, and form the jobs of tomorrow? We’ll need to consider the skillsets of people across our economy. Part of that is considering the workforce that will need to transition from a job that might not exist 10 years from now into a job that is driving innovation. It’s also about creating opportunities that make our economy more equitable and inclusive.
When you ask people: do you think there needs to be a fundamental change towards an economy that is cleaner and fairer? Unanimously, you get a yes. It’s not at all clear exactly what that future looks like, but that consensus creates an opportunity to chart a new path.
How can financial institutions take a leadership role in the just transition?
Financial institutions like credit unions and banks make crucial decisions every day about where money goes, what gets funded, and who benefits. So, we have a crucial role to play in determining the future economy and frankly the future of our planet. Accordingly, there are a number of questions that all financial institutions should be asking: Are we just offsetting climate impacts? Are we working to avoid them in the first place? How are we measuring the changes to our balance sheet in a rigorous way that ensures transparency? Finally, how do we ensure that the actions we are taking are leading towards an economy that is both clean and fair? I strongly believe that we have an obligation to understand the impacts of our decisions on where to allocate capital, because those who have the least to do with causing climate change in the first place are those who will be impacted the most and who will have the least available resources to adapt. We have a unique opportunity right now to learn from the past and explore what it means to truly build back better.
If you could ask the GLOBE Capital community to take one action, what would it be?
I’d ask the GLOBE Capital community to bring an equity lens to every action they take on climate. For example, when you’re looking at climate risk across a portfolio of buildings, consider the demographics of the locations and local people’s ability to adapt. Considering equity means asking: are there choices that we can make today to ensure we’re not only protecting our investments against climate risk, but we’re also fostering equity and resilience? It goes back to the premise that yes, we need to decarbonize. We could do that overnight by just stopping funding a variety of activities, but that’s neither practical nor will it lead to an equitable economy and society. So, we need to ensure we’re inviting everyone into the conversation and framing that conversation in a way where everyone, particularly marginalized communities, can see themselves reflected.