Imagine the year 2030. Then look back to the past decade. What if we have been able to halve the greenhouse gas emissions in line with the Paris Agreement? What if we have achieved the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals? Can you imagine us saying, on the 10th anniversary of the Corona pandemic, that “it was a horrible crisis, but we made a green recovery”?
In 1666 The Great Plague, an epidemic of its time, was raging in the UK. Many public buildings were closed, and the young Isaac Newton had abandoned Cambridge University for his modest childhood home. The times were tough. And yet, there was room for imagination. When the apple famously dropped from the tree in the garden, he began to wonder, and eventually this event inspired him to develop the theory of gravity.
The pandemic we are now experiencing is also tough. It furthermore may have taken our attention from another crisis, which is not as sudden. Climate change has not disappeared, nor has the urgency to fight it. Devastation does not have to be our fate or legacy, but in order to take action, we must be able to imagine a future of regeneration. The power of imagination helps us to see options, and options give us the possibility to make choices. Choices based on science. Now, when we start to recover from the pandemic, and start planning for the economic recovery, we have an option to build a better, more sustainable future. The choice is ours.
At Neste, we have made that choice. Fighting climate change is at the core of our strategy. We help our customers reduce their greenhouse gas emission by at least 20 million tons annually by 2030. We are also committed to reducing our own carbon footprint, and we have developed a comprehensive roadmap to carbon neutral production by 2035. Further, we want to take on the global waste plastic challenge and have set an ambition to process more than one million tons of plastic waste annually by 2030. Reaching these targets will require enormous efforts, and new ways of thinking, innovation and plenty of collaboration will be needed.
A lot has happened in the past decade. Neste’s transformation journey has taken it from being a local oil refining company to becoming a global leader in renewable and circular solutions. Did everyone at Neste know ten years ago what that journey would be like? Probably not. Imagination and determination were essential to change the course of the company. Overcoming the fear of the unknown and going against the odds together have defined the experience for many of our employees.
Do we know now what our next decade will be like? No, but at Neste we have a clear plan and strong commitment to innovate our way through to the sustainable future we have imagined: we will create a healthier planet for our children.
This year marks the 20th anniversary of the United Nations sustainability initiative, Global Compact. It took strong will and power of imagination to think of businesses and governments uniting behind a common agenda. Today, over 10,000 companies around the world are driving their actions towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals. Neste is one of them. Imagination, like optimism, is infectious and can spread fast. All it really takes is an idea, and suddenly thousands or even millions of people, who do not even know each other, are able to work towards the same goal. We are united, because we are better together.
Let’s not let the current crisis derail us. When the times are tough, we must nurture our imagination - it helps us to adapt and reshape our world. Maybe this summer we should spend some time sitting under an apple tree?
Senior Vice President, Sustainability, Public Affairs, Communications and Brand Marketing