Texan by Nature is excited to recognize Shell Oil Company (Shell) as a 2021 TxN 20 honoree for their leadership in conservation and sustainability. Shell’s commitment to conservation, their projects/programs, best practices, and lessons learned are an example and inspiration for us all.
Honoree Industry and Size: Energy – Enterprise
Shell is an international energy company with expertise in the exploration, production, refining and marketing of oil and natural gas, and the manufacturing and marketing of chemicals. We use advanced technologies and take an innovative approach to help build a sustainable energy future. We also invest in power, including from low-carbon sources such as wind and solar; and new fuels for transport, such as advanced biofuels and hydrogen. Shell’s purpose is to power progress together with more and cleaner energy solutions.
What is Shell’s conservation and sustainability mission and why is it important to your culture?
Sustainability at Shell means providing more and cleaner energy solutions for a growing population in a responsible way. This means being a good neighbor by contributing to the well-being of communities where we work and live. Environmental stewardship is one way Shell has provided benefits to communities over the past 100 years. We strategically invest in conservation initiatives that are guided by scientific understanding and research of the environmental impact of our operations. We also address community-specific challenges and needs associated with our presence.
Shell believes that by working together, we can win. That is why it is important we partner and engage with citizens and responsible organizations to leverage their expertise and ensure our investments make the most impact possible. Between 2015 and 2020, we invested $32.28 million in several key conservation efforts across the US. We have also shared much of the data we collect so that others can learn from and build upon our efforts.
Our core values of honesty, integrity, and respect for people – first laid out in our General Business Principles more than 40 years ago – underpin our approach to sustainability. Today, we continue to build on this foundation while driving positive change across the organization. Our aim is to help society meet its most pressing challenges, including those related to climate change, the environment, diversity and inclusion, and human rights.
How is conservation and sustainability a part of Shell’s business strategy?
In February 2021, we announced Powering Progress, which sets out Shell’s strategy to accelerate the transition of our business, in step with society and our customers. Powering Progress is designed to integrate sustainability with our business strategy, portfolio, and environmental and social ambitions under the goals:
With Shell’s Social Investment in the US, we power progress by initiating, establishing, and supporting programs that address pressing social, workforce, environmental, and ecosystem issues. These programs also create sustainable value to people, communities, and the environment. We focus on supporting national programs in areas where we have a large presence and collaborate with asset leads to leverage and strengthen local social investment initiatives where we live and work. This serves as a critical component of how we do business in the US.
What are Shell’s short and long-term goals as they relate to conservation and sustainability?
We develop and deliver an integrated US Social Investment strategy focused on preserving and protecting our license to operate, while promoting the shared value that is created by working with our businesses to achieve a range of community and environmental benefits. In the US, we proactively identify programs that deliver outcomes related to Respecting Nature (Biodiversity, Conservation and Environment), Powering Lives (Social, Workforce and STEM Education), Emergency Response and Disaster Relief.
Our Powering Progress goals that also support these themes are as follows:
Achieving Net Zero Emissions:
To supplementally support Powering Progress themes, Shell US Social Investment specifically works to:
Through Powering Progress, Shell also aligns with the UN Sustainable Developments goals. Explore how Shell contributes to these goals here.
Who in your company is leading your conservation and sustainability efforts and what are some examples of employee engagement in conservation and sustainability at Shell?
What conservation and sustainability programs and projects does Shell lead and participate in?
National Coastal Resilience Fund (NCRF): Shell funds this impactful grant by the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF) every year that is especially important due to many of our assets’ location along coastlines. Both the Houston and New Orleans area have suffered greatly from hurricanes and the aftermath left their wake. NCRF restores, increases, and strengthens natural infrastructure to protect coastal communities while also enhancing habitats for fish and wildlife. Established in 2018, NCRF invests in conservation projects that restore or expand natural features such as coastal marshes and wetlands, dune and beach systems, oyster and coral reefs, forests, coastal rivers and floodplains, and barrier islands that minimize the impacts of storms and other naturally occurring events on nearby communities. Over the years, 10,000+ acres of land have been restored/enhanced through this grant.
Gulf Coast Initiative Fund: The coastal marshes and prairies of the Gulf Coast are the continent’s most endangered wetland system. Along the coast, Ducks Unlimited (DU) uses a variety of methods to restore or enhance wetland habitats, such as installing terraces to restore coastal marsh that has been converted to shallow open water, constructing breakwater structures or rock barriers created along the edges of navigation channels to protect sensitive marshes from wave action and saltwater intrusion, and making use of dredged material to provide wildlife habitat. The funding from Shell has directly conserved 20,720 acres—meaning some portion of our funding was invested directly into specific projects. However, the greater conservation story occurs when we look at the 217,888 acres that we have directly and indirectly impacted across Texas and Louisiana, a critical area for Shell.
Houston Wilderness Port of Houston TREES Program: Houston has experienced a significant loss of tree cover over the last few decades. One study estimated the value of lost tree canopy in Houston from 1972-1999 value was $38 million per year. The Houston Health Department is working with Houston Wilderness to combat climate change and protect the health of Houstonians by mitigating the risks of air pollution. The program contributes to the City of Houston Resilient Houston Plan’s 4.6 Million Native Trees by 2030 Strategy by planting one million targeted native “super trees” (which have high rates of carbon absorption, flood mitigation, and greenhouse gas absorption abilities). Large-scale plantings of “super trees,” will create habitat for multiple bird and wildlife species, improve the health of residents, reach a 4% annual increase in organic carbon sequestration, and provide a practical, yet innovative, climate change solution. Shell is proud to support this local program that will have benefits for years to come.
Wildlife Habitat Council (WHC) Certification: Shell Woodcreek Campus is gold certified through WHC’s Conservation Certification program, which is the only voluntary sustainability standard designed for broad-based biodiversity enhancement and conservation education activities on corporate landholdings. The certification recognizes meaningful wildlife habitat management and conservation education programs, provides third-party credibility and an objective evaluation, and produces an aggregated metric for reporting and disclosure. We at Shell feel this demonstrates our long-term commitment to managing quality habitat for wildlife, conservation education, and community outreach initiatives in areas where we live and work. Learn more.
Learn more about Shell’s conservation activities here.
How do you see the future of conservation and sustainability evolving, and what role will Shell play in that progress?
Shell US is destined to play a central role in navigating the energy transition while meeting global energy demand, and we are excited about tackling these challenges through innovation and collaboration. This pathway requires fundamental adjustments to the US energy system at a pace of change that will be difficult. However, given the progress to date and the changes seen in just the last decade, we believe it’s possible. We believe our multi-faceted approach through our Social Investment programs in the environmental conservation space will make a great indirect contribution to our Powering Progress Net Zero Emissions goals, as well as a direct contribution to Respecting Nature and Powering Lives. We at Shell are passionate about protecting the communities we live and work in and we have a long history of rising to the most difficult challenges. And we will meet that challenge, in step with society, head-on: using our 100+ years of experience as an energy company to create low-carbon products and invest heavily in projects that help preserve our environment and communities.
How does Shell quantify investment and return on conservation and sustainability?
In 2020, Shell spent and invested:
Additionally, Shell invests in reducing emissions through:
What is the one lesson that Shell has learned from your conservation and sustainability efforts that others can take back and think about applying within their own space?
In our view, conservation and sustainability are not an ‘either / or’ option when it comes to conducting business. Respect for nature and powering lives are the two priorities that guide our work on behalf of our communities, the environment, and our businesses. We have also found that collaborating with others to increase the scale and impact of our efforts is, ultimately, a more strategic and impactful model for us.
Why is Texas an important home or base of operations for Shell?
Shell has had interests in Texas for more than 100 years. Today, Shell’s presence in Texas includes a broad range of operations. In addition to Shell’s longtime U.S. headquarters in Houston, nearly every aspect of our business is present in Texas, given the favorable policy and fiscal environment, skilled workers, and plentiful resources. Upstream is represented in the shale oil assets of the west Texas Permian Basin, along with supporting facilities for deep water Gulf of Mexico production. On the downstream side, we have a prominent manufacturing site along with numerous distribution centers and retail stations. We look forward to the opportunity to continue to build a legacy of environmental conservation across Texas.
“It’s an honor to be recognized by an extraordinary organization like Texan by Nature, with its mission for advancing conservation,” said Gretchen Watkins, President of Shell Oil Company. “The conservation efforts at Shell are an outgrowth of one of our core goals – respecting nature. Shell has proudly had activity in Texas dating back to the early 1900s and we hope to continue working with Texan by Nature and other partners to protect and strengthen the environment across this great state in the years to come.”
Learn more about Shell Oil Company’s conservation and sustainability efforts here.
Shell actively involves its employees and partners in sustainability and conservation efforts.
In 2020, Shell spent and invested:
Between 2015 and 2020, Shell invested $32.28 million in several key conservation efforts across the US.
Shell funds the Gulf Coast Initiative Fund, with which Ducks Unlimited uses a variety of methods to restore or enhance wetland habitats. The funding from Shell has directly conserved 20,720 acres and has directly and indirectly impacted 217,888 acres across Texas and Louisiana, a critical area for Shell.
Shell funds the National Coastal Resilience Fund (NCRF) which restores, increases, and strengthens natural infrastructure to protect coastal communities while also enhancing habitats for fish and wildlife. Since 2018, 10,000+ acres of land have been restored/enhanced through this fund.
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