There is a new industrial revolution underway that’s being driven by a global boom in clean innovation, according to a new report by Canadian think tank Smart Prosperity. With a global market estimated to be worth $2.5 trillion by 2022, clean innovations are new technologies, products, and practices that improve environmental performance in any sector of the economy. This is inspiring a wave of innovation that brings with it tremendous opportunity for Canada. And some of the biggest players are unlikely allies. Energy companies like Shell Canada don’t want to sit on the sidelines. Instead, they are embracing the clean energy transition.

Michael Crothers, President and Country Chair of Shell Canada, recognizes a moment of change when he sees one, and is committed to leading Shell through the transition. He identifies three key priorities for the company: maintaining their standing as a world-class investment, thriving in the energy transition, and being a force for good. He sees no reason that any of those three should conflict. “I’m proud to work for a company that is serious about supporting society in meeting the challenge of both more and cleaner energy,” says Crothers. “It’s not an either-or.”

And for Crothers, as for all of us, the health of our planet is personal. “I’m about to become a grandfather,” Crothers says. “As my twin daughters both prepare to become mothers, I reflect on the kind of world I want to see their children grow up in — and what I can do personally and through Shell to help us get there.”

A diversified portfolio of ideas

Part of Shell’s efforts in this area have taken the form of advocating for policies like carbon pricing that incentivize companies to go green — but they have also been taking more direct action, vowing to cut the carbon footprint of both their operations and their products roughly in half by 2050. To this end, northeast of Edmonton they have built, together with the governments of Alberta and Canada, the massive carbon capture and storage (CCS) Quest project which sequesters CO2 into permanent storage, preventing it from otherwise being released into the atmosphere. Since the project started operation in late 2015, it has safely captured and stored more than two million tonnes of CO2, equivalent to the annual emissions of 500,000 cars.

They’re also working with Edmonton-based SBI BioEnergy on a process that can convert vegetable oils into diesel and jet fuel. Outside of Canada, Shell acquired an interest in Silicon Ranch in the US, a leading developer, owner, and operator of solar energy plants, and in Europe, Shell has partnered with four top auto manufacturers to deploy leading-edge electric vehicle charging technology. Through its New Energies business, launched in 2016, Shell is planning to invest as much as $1 to 2 billion per year by 2020 into new fuels and renewable power.

And this is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the energy transition projects Shell has underway. “Winning in the energy transition will require us to take risks,” says Crothers. “We will need to make multiple bets on technology and think in new ways.”

One of the big bets Shell is making is on Canada — and it seems to be a sound one. As a global oil and gas powerhouse now committed to building a greener future, Canada has a lot in common with Shell.

“Canada is the ideal place to drive this change,” says Crothers. “The values, resourcefulness, and willingness to work together create the conditions to move to new energy solutions, fight climate change, and maintain a great standard of living —  for the health of our planet and for those new grandkids that my family will be welcoming home soon."