We’re tackling our environmental challenges head-on: reducing the greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions intensity of our operations, decreasing the amount of land we need to build oil sands projects, striving to reduce habitat loss and impact on wildlife and working to help ensure our operations don’t affect nearby lakes and streams. We share the public’s concern that climate change is one of the greatest global challenges of our time and we’ve set an aspirational goal to achieve zero carbon emissions oil along the entire value chain.

Our employees, many of whom live near our operations, are personally committed to making sure we continue to find new ways to get oil and natural gas out of the ground safely and responsibly. We’re proud of our environmental performance and even prouder of the improvements we’ve achieved.

Our approach to managing environmental performance leverages innovation, collaboration, and transparency while implementing a number of practices to integrate environment into our business.

Innovation

At Cenovus, we know oil can be part of a clean energy future. That’s why we’re especially focused on technology and innovation to help us find both incremental and game-changing solutions to the environmental challenges associated with oil production and consumption.

Learn more in the Innovation section of this report »

Collaboration

We recognize that no single institution or sector can deal with climate change and the environmental challenges of our industry. That’s why we collaborate with others to find ways to manage the environmental impact of the industry as a whole.

Learn more about how we’re collaborating in the Innovation section of this report »

Along with other members of industry, environmental organizations and community members, Cenovus is represented on the Oil Sands Advisory Group (OSAG) which is providing feedback and advice to the Government of Alberta on the oil sands aspects of its Climate Leadership Plan, which was announced in 2015. We believe the policy is world-leading and will be used as a reference for other jurisdictions around the world as they establish carbon legislation. The policy provides greater predictability and certainty for producers to invest in the growth of this significant Canadian resource while also addressing global concerns about climate change.

By working together with the other members of OSAG, we believe we can help shape smart public policy that promotes a prosperous economy, healthy environment and social well-being. The focus of the group is to:

  • Consider how to implement the 100 megatonne per year carbon emissions limit for the oil sands industry
  • Develop durable, effective structures and processes to address local and regional environmental issues (i.e. air, land, water, biodiversity, cumulative effects)
  • Provide advice to government on investing carbon price revenue to advance innovations that could reduce future emissions intensity.5

Learn more in this section about some of the other collaborations we’re working on in the areas of air, biodiversity and water.

Transparency

One of our goals is to provide shareholders and investors with transparent disclosure on the carbon risks associated with our business. We annually disclose our environmental, social and governance performance through our annual reporting disclosures and third-party assessments, which are listed below.

Annual disclosures: We disclose and discuss risks related to the environment in our Annual Information Form and Management's Discussion and Analysis as part of our annual filings. We also disclose how progress towards our internal environmental objectives is linked to compensation in our Management Information Circular for each Annual Meeting of Shareholders.

Corporate responsibility report: We produce our corporate responsibility report every year to outline our performance for the previous year in areas including environment, safety and community.

Dow Jones Sustainability Index: We have participated since 2010 in the RobecoSAM Corporate Sustainability Questionnaire, which determines eligibility for inclusion in the Dow Jones Sustainability Index family.

CDP Climate Change and Water disclosures: We annually report our GHG emissions and climate change data to CDP’s climate change program, where we have been placed in the top quartile of all global companies assessed by CDP and are one of only two Canadian energy companies at the Leadership level. Cenovus also participated in CDP’s water disclosure in 2016, a voluntary program that allows companies to share information about water management and governance, water-related risks, opportunities and water accounting.

We report emissions and climate change data to:

  • Provide increased transparency to investors, shareholders and the general public
  • Identify how we mitigate risks related to climate change
  • Better understand our carbon emissions performance and identify opportunities to increase efficiencies
Environmental Commitments
Our Environmental Commitments reflect our approach and the collective actions we take to create business value through environmental performance.

Taking care of the environment is part of what we do every day – from how we design our oil sands projects, to the way we operate, to the care we take in reclaiming the land when a project is complete. That’s why we integrate environmental considerations and performance into our business decisions in a number of ways.

Some of the ways we integrate the environment into our business decisions include:

We work with our stakeholders so we have a better understanding of their concerns about our industry and they have a better understanding of our company. Stakeholder engagement is integral to our corporate responsibility approach - it informs our understanding of what is most important to our stakeholders, helps us collaborate with them to develop innovative solutions and allows us to be transparent by sharing information on material topics through our corporate responsibility report and other disclosures.

Environmental considerations are reflected in several key company policies, including our Corporate Responsibility Policy.

Environment is a core accountability of our Board’s Safety, Environment and Responsibility (SER) Committee, our Leadership Team and specifically our Executive Vice-President of Environment, Corporate Affairs, Legal & General Counsel. The Board and Leadership Team review environmental compliance quarterly and environmental performance once a year through the SER Committee.

Our Environment & Sustainability and Regulatory teams are accountable for stewarding the company’s approach to the environment. These teams consist of subject matter experts for air and GHG emissions, water, waste and spills, land and biodiversity, reclamation and remediation, compliance, environmental planning and assurance. They report to the Executive Vice-President of Environment, Corporate Affairs, Legal & General Counsel.

Environmental considerations are fully integrated into our Enterprise Risk Management Policy. Environmental impacts are mapped out using a specific risk matrix.

We undertake an environmental planning process to review our environmental performance, assess priorities and identify actions and areas for improvement for the coming year.

We conduct environment, health, safety and regulatory assessments to help ensure we are in compliance with applicable laws and regulations as well as to continuously improve performance across our operations. Each assessment is carried out by a cross-functional team that includes specialists and trained subject matter experts from across the company.

We track and report on a broad range of environmental metrics that are important to our stakeholders through our corporate responsibility report and to regulators as required by law. We also use these metrics to drive internal performance and help manage risk.

We put a lot of care and attention into understanding the environment in an area before we begin a project. When we apply to develop a new oil sands project, we must submit an environmental impact assessment (EIA). The EIA process allows government decision makers and our project design teams to examine the proposed project to determine what the environmental, social, economic and health implications may be so that impacts can be avoided, reduced or mitigated.