3 big ways California is leading the charge in sustainability


Posted: July 30, 2020 | Word Count: 896

Poll after poll shows that a growing number of Americans, especially Millennials and Generation Z, view solving climate change as a top priority. Amid COVID-19, the urgency to have a plan in place has become even more apparent: Society must act now to prevent a climate catastrophe.

A smart start is by investing in an energy and transport system that can keep vehicles moving with lower greenhouse gas emissions and less pollution. The good news is that we don’t have to wait for zero-emissions technologies to make it happen. This can be accomplished using available, today solutions — and California is taking the lead.

Forward-thinking businesses and cities across the state are choosing to work with Neste, the world’s largest producer of renewable products made from waste and residue materials, and kick the oil habit in favor of advanced biofuels. By doing this, they are participating in a “green recovery” and are better positioned to hit their climate change targets.

1. Expanding opportunities for renewable diesel

Recently, the California Air Resources Board (CARB) adopted a first-in-the-world rule requiring truck manufacturers to transition from diesel trucks and vans to electric, zero-emission vehicles beginning in 2024.

This is great news, but there are challenges. The cost and pace of change is uncertain. One thing that is clear, though, is that there are hundreds of thousands of diesel-powered trucks on the road today that will still be running for decades to come.

This is where advanced biofuels come in. Renewable diesel can deliver immediate, real and lasting greenhouse gas emission reductions. It emits up to 80% less greenhouse gas emissions than fossil diesel on a lifecycle basis, and contributes to solving environmental justice issues like air pollution. And the best part? Renewable diesel works with existing diesel engines, like those in heavy-duty trucks. In fact, it can improve engine performance.

Now, Neste is making it easier for truck drivers to fuel up with a more sustainable option. This summer, four new Neste MY Renewable Diesel fueling stations opened throughout the state in Wasco, Buttonwillow and Shafter. They join existing stations in San Leandro, San Jose, Keyes and Ripon.

Neste’s ambition is to create a “green fueling network” across the West Coast of the U.S., eventually providing truck drivers with a seamless way to fill up on low carbon fuels while moving along I-5. The benefits extend beyond trucking; fleet operators running school buses, tractors, cement mixers, fire trucks and many other types of vehicles can make the switch to renewable diesel.

2. Increasing opportunities for sustainable aviation fuel

Air travel slowed due to COVID-19 but is on the rise again. The Federal Aviation Administration forecasts 1.31 billion Americans to board a plane in 2039. More air travel will ultimately lead to more fossil jet fuel being burned — and more greenhouse gas emissions — if we continue business as usual.

Once again, advanced biofuels offer a solution. Sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) provides an immediate way for airlines to reduce the direct greenhouse gas emissions of flying. The fuel works with existing aircraft engines and infrastructure, reducing greenhouse gas emissions by up to 80% compared to fossil jet fuel on a lifecycle basis.

Recently, Neste delivered its first batch of SAF to San Francisco International Airport (SFO) using an existing pipeline that was previously used for oil products. SFO called this achievement a “climate quantum leap.”

The fuel is available for purchase and use by major airlines that have committed to fighting climate change. The volume of sustainable aviation fuel that Neste expects to provide to SFO will offset greenhouse gas emissions equivalent to 1,200 flights between SFO and NYC on an A320 or 737.

3. Creating a circular economy for the city of Oakland

In 2019, Neste and its trusted, local partner, Western States Oil, began working with the City of Oakland, California, to turn its trash into renewable fuels. Neste collects used cooking oil from local businesses, such as restaurants and stadiums, and converts that waste into renewable diesel to power the city’s municipal fleets — buses, garbage trucks, street cleaners and more.

This approach benefits Oakland in many ways:

  • Immediate, lasting reduction in greenhouse gas emissions
  • Less pollution and cleaner air
  • Keeps waste out of landfills
  • Puts money back into pockets of local businesses

This circular economy did not cost the City of Oakland — or taxpayers — anything extra.

The model has proven so successful that Neste has taken it global, working with McDonald’s chains in the Netherlands to fuel their logistics and supply-chain operations with renewable diesel made from leftover cooking oil — a concept dubbed “from fries to miles.”

“All our renewable products are made by recycling — or rather upcycling — one industry’s waste into another industry’s treasure,” said Jeremy Baines, president of Neste U.S. “Our advanced biofuels are the perfect example of this: using waste and residue materials from the food system to power our transportation system.”

Last year, Neste’s renewable products prevented more than 9.6 million tons of CO2 equivalent from entering the atmosphere. The company’s ambition is to get that number up to 20 million by 2030.

Neste’s commitment to keep California’s people and economy moving with less greenhouse emissions and pollution continues even through the pandemic. The company stands ready to continue investing in California and to work with businesses, cities and policymakers to create a green recovery.

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