Shell Project Better World – a participant's perspective.
Shell and Earthwatch have been working together for over 10 years, through the Shell Project Better World programme, an internal, volunteer-led initiative that educates and involves Shell staff in environmental projects and issues. We hear from Abhijeet Kulkarni, a reservoir engineer working for Shell in Copenhagen, and volunteer on Earthwatch’s ‘Climate change at the Arctic’s edge’ research expedition through Project Better World.
“Volunteering has been an integral part of my life since early school days when I used to participate in tree-planting activities back home. The feeling of contributing towards a better world and sustainable environment was incredible and always gave me an immense personal satisfaction. When I moved to Aberdeen to start my job, the Shell Project Better world group was an ideal platform to pursue more of these volunteering opportunities. The Earthwatch project was a natural extension of this work, but on an international scale.
Additionally, for much of my career at Shell, I have been involved in various CO2 injection projects, which are large-scale engineering solutions to address climate change issues. Direct involvement in Earthwatch research projects seemed like a perfect opportunity to understand climate change at a grassroots level. I submitted a successful application to participate in the “Climate change at the Arctic’s edge” project winter team. The prospect of conducting field research in temperatures as low as -40 C seemed daunting and challenging. But at the same time, I was very excited to take on this challenge.
Churchill turned out to be a very special place. The Earthwatch project staff and crew at the Churchill Northern Studies Centre made us feel welcome and comfortable in such a harsh environment. The work routine of data gathering under harsh conditions meant almost every day was a special experience. The feeling of contributing towards understanding our very own environment, and planet definitely made it worthwhile. It also gave me an opportunity to represent Shell among a diverse group of people.
The learnings that I took from the project are significant and I hope to carry them into my work as well as my personal life. This experience has certainly helped me understand the dynamics of climate change and how it is affecting our environment. It has given me another perspective (other than technical) in my current assignment of delivering a field development plan for a CO2 injection project.
On a personal front, I have become quite cautious in terms of utilising any form of energy in my daily life (electricity, water, gas heating etc.) and have also started to think in terms of the impact of my choices on the environment.
From my perspective as a Shell employee, an experience like this is an important aspect of creating a workforce which is sensitive and aware about the environment. It will go a long way in educating staff about the impact of sustainable development.
Looking back, I am thankful to Shell as well as to Earthwatch for providing me with such a valuable opportunity. I will cherish the time I spent in Churchill and friends I made during this expedition. I truly believe that all Earthwatch projects are doing pioneering research in the area of climate change and ecosystem analysis. It was my privilege to be part of such a noble cause and to play my part, to contribute towards a better world!”
Watch a short film about the Shell Project Better World programme and environmental initiatives.