2015 was a pivotal year for the energy industry and one in which the connection between energy, environment and the economy came into even sharper focus.
An extended period of low prices for oil and natural gas combined with increasingly competitive prices for renewables to influence energy market fundamentals. Regulatory frameworks for energy production, transportation and consumption continued to shift in response to changing public and consumer expectations. New plans for climate action emerged at the regional, national and international levels.
For Enbridge, our ability to understand the connections between these developments is critical to our ability to ensure the long-term sustainability of our business. It is also critical to our ability to help sustain the people, communities and natural environments that depend on us.
Through our 2015 Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) & Sustainability Report on our social and environmental performance, we share the actions we are taking to integrate social and environmental considerations into our business decision making. Preparing this report has helped us hold ourselves accountable for the results we have achieved to date, as well as the work that still needs to be done.
As always, our report contains detailed information on how we are applying sustainable development principles and practices in areas that range from business ethics to supply chain management to research and innovation. I would like to draw your attention to three areas in particular.
On our top corporate priority of safety and operational reliability, I am pleased to be able to point to continued improvement in our performance. Employee injury and lost-time rates in 2015 were the lowest they have been since we started tracking them—notwithstanding the fact that the total number of hours worked last year increased. In addition, all of our business segments enjoyed strong performance in detecting and preventing spills and releases from our pipelines and distribution systems, even as we moved record volumes on our liquids systems.
As yearly incident rates are lagging indicators of performance, this report also discusses the steps we are taking on leading indicators that will help us sustain high levels of safety and environmental performance over the longer term. These include expanded programs for employee and contractor training, as well as emergency response coordination and training. They also include industry-leading levels of investment in improved technologies and management systems for leak detection and spill prevention.
How we are engaging with stakeholders is another leading indicator that I track closely. Be it an oil or gas pipeline, an electrical transmission line or a renewable energy project, the North American public is demanding increased confidence in energy regulators and energy infrastructure companies. This has created a highly challenging environment for some of our projects and operations. It means that Enbridge’s competency in responding to the demand for new types of engagement on energy issues is now a key success factor for us in the North American energy landscape.
This report looks at some of the strategies and systems we are putting in place to achieve a more rigorous approach to engagement, both within and outside of regulatory processes. It provides examples of changes we are making to the way we are engaging with Indigenous peoples, as well as with internal and external stakeholders that include local communities, environmental organizations, and our employees and contractors.
Engagement has long been about doing a better job of listening and hearing. But now, equally importantly for us, it is also about demonstrating how we are acting on what we hear. And it means responding in ways that are more transparent and accountable to the groups whose concerns we are addressing.
Better definition of Enbridge’s role in a lower-carbon future is the third performance area that we put particular focus on in 2015. As a company with businesses that span the energy spectrum from oil pipelines to natural gas distribution and processing to renewable energy and transmission, we are uniquely positioned to contribute to the transition to a lower-carbon future by advancing energy diversification while ensuring energy supply.
In 2015 we consulted extensively on an updated corporate Climate Policy that provides new guidance on emissions reduction and on how we are managing climate-related risks and opportunities. We are pleased to provide information on our updated policy in this report.
As with our financial results, our sustainability results are driven by our people, who embrace our core values of Integrity, Safety and Respect in support of our communities, the environment and each other. I hope that after reading this report you will feel, as I do, that we have an exceptional team that is dedicated to learning and to making progress across all of our key performance areas. I thank them for their ongoing efforts and contribution to making our business more sustainable. We welcome your feedback on this report.