It's rare to see energy companies and environmentalists find cause to agree. But this week, the government of Alberta gave us reason not only to agree, but to stand together and applaud.
On Sunday, I stood alongside Premier Rachel Notley and representatives from my industry, First Nations and environmental groups as Alberta unveiled its climate leadership plan. Together, we came out in support of the plan, which sets an economy-wide carbon price, increases the price of carbon for large industries and puts a limit on oil sands emissions.
Although applicable to all types of oil and gas production, this new policy is designed to significantly limit greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from the oil sands, which make up 8.5 per cent of Canada's overall GHG emissions.
We've seen reaction to Alberta's climate plan from around the globe. And while you'll never get to unanimity, many agree that the plan is an unexpected change. A turning point, if you will.
Sunday marks the end of a chapter for Alberta, and for Canada, where the economy and the environment were at odds.
I have always believed that it's not an either/or. I firmly believe that Alberta's climate plan is a win for both the economy and the environment. It will position Alberta, and by extension Canada, to be a global leader in combatting climate change. It will also promote economic prosperity for future generations by focusing on jobs and diversification and by ensuring that the cost burden of the carbon price is eased for the most vulnerable Albertans.
And as an oil sands producer, I believe that the limit set on carbon emissions will provide the incentive needed to put Canadian oil on the path to becoming the world's most environmentally and economically competitive.
The policy design will also help Alberta realize its potential not only as a global exporter of cleaner hydrocarbons, but as a global exporter of new energy technologies. This is because a portion of the funds raised from Alberta's carbon-pricing regime will go toward developing these potentially groundbreaking technologies.
At Shell, we have seen what's possible when low-carbon technology is applied to hydrocarbons. Quest – our new carbon capture and storage (CCS) project near Edmonton – will capture and store more than one million tonnes of CO2 each year from our oil sands upgrader.
With Quest CCS, Shell was a technology facilitator, receiving funding from the governments of Alberta and Canada to bring this landmark project to life. We are now openly sharing our technology and processes with other countries to help bring down costs of future projects worldwide.
It's Canadian ingenuity that will continue to unlock and export these kinds of lower-carbon solutions, generating new revenue streams.
As Ms. Notley said, our goal is to become one of the world's most progressive and forward-looking energy producers. Because of Canada's tremendous resources, there are few other countries that have as much incentive and are as well positioned to become the best in the world at reducing carbon.
But at times of real change, we can't go at it alone. To paraphrase an African proverb, to go fast, go alone, but to go far, go together. Since we have to move fast and far to tackle climate change, each of us has to move both individually and together. As a company, this means we can continue taking individual actions to reduce our carbon emissions. Shell has taken steps to reduce the CO2 emissions of each barrel we produce by 20 per cent over the past five years.
And as an industry, this means we can continue working together through the Canadian Oil Sands Innovation Alliance to develop groundbreaking technologies that further reduce our environmental footprint.
And while I believe that this kind of industry collaboration is unprecedented globally – where else do you see 13 companies sharing their technology to improve environmental performance? – it's still not enough.
The ability of Canada's energy resources to compete globally hinges on the efforts of more than one company or one industry. For this to happen, we need collaboration with many players.
That is what Sunday was all about. As I stood on stage alongside representatives from industry, government and civil society, I was hopeful that in taking these steps, Canadians and the international community would see that Albertans from all walks of life are serious about climate change.
As Albertans, and Canadians, we have the opportunity to be in charge of our own destiny. Working toward common economic and environmental goals will put us on a path to better compete globally in both areas, while ensuring our resources are developed responsibly for generations to come.
By moving forward, together, we are one step closer.