Jeremy Baines, President of Neste US, makes the case for how we can build back better, through the expansion of sustainable programs such as the Low Carbon Fuel Standard, and switching hard to electrify vehicles - like big rigs, planes, tractors, fire trucks, and more - to run on low-carbon, renewable advanced biofuels.
In April, the smoggy skies of Los Angeles were among the clearest of any major city in the United States. At the same time, satellite imagery showed significantly less nitrogen dioxide, carbon monoxide and other pollutants in the skies above Houston, Texas.
Normally, this should be a cause for celebration. But not this year. The cleaner air was just a side effect of COVID-19. Sadly, smoggy and dirty air is already returning in some places as the United States starts to re-open for business.
Pollution and smog, however, are not a certainty. Recently, Jeremy Baines, President of Neste US, participated in two major virtual conferences focused on creating a more sustainable and equitable transport and energy system, one that helps fight - instead of contributing to - climate change and air pollution.
During the Nordic Innovation Summit 2020 (NIS), a conference that brought together great minds, leaders, and businesses from the Nordic countries and the Pacific Northwest, Jeremy gave examples of how Neste is successfully working with cities to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and pollution.
“Last year, we partnered with the City of Oakland to create a circular economy where their municipal vehicles are running on their own fries,” he said.
In 2019, Neste and its partners began collecting used cooking oil from local businesses in Oakland, California. Neste converts this locally sourced used cooking oil into renewable diesel to power the City of Oakland’s municipal fleets. Renewable diesel is an advanced biofuel that works with existing fueling infrastructure and engines. It emits up to 80% less greenhouse gas emissions and less pollution compared to fossil diesel.
Find out more about Neste and the City of Oakland’s pioneering work here.
Jeremy also spoke about decarbonizing the oil and gas sector during the Ceres 2020 conference, a summit focused on addressing the challenges and opportunities that investors, companies and policymakers alike face when it comes to sustainability. Here, he flipped the standard oil vs. climate debate on its head by pointing out the many potential benefits oil and gas companies can receive from transitioning to renewables.
“Neste is a green swan,” he declared. “We made the decision to transition from fossil fuels to renewable products, and are now showing that it is possible to create a sustainable, profitable business model grounded in renewables.”
In the discussions, Jeremy explained that successful policy solutions and proven, available low carbon products - like advanced biofuels - must play a larger role in the climate change discussion and occupy a bigger piece of the action plan.
“We have a choice on how we restart the economy," he said. “We can continue business as usual or we can create a sustainable economy and environment.”
As society recovers and moves into a new normal, businesses and government officials should consider these solutions as an effective way to build back better, and collectively lead the charge.