Courtesy Matti Lehmus

Matti Lehmus is president and CEO of Neste, Corporation, the world’s leading producer of sustainable aviation fuel. Over the past decade, the Finnish petroleum refining company has shifted from solely refining crude oil to creating not just sustainable aviation fuel, but also renewable diesel and renewable plastics. In 2023, Neste announced it is launching a lower emission maritime fuel as well as a joint collaboration with other Finnish energy companies to boost renewable hydrogen.

What is a climate technology that isn’t getting the attention or funding it deserves?

Aviation is today responsible for 2% to 3% of global CO2 emissions. And with air travel expected to double by 2040, aviation emissions are expected to increase significantly, underscoring the urgent need for solutions and action. Sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) is one key lever to reduce aviation-related emissions and to achieve the aviation industry’s net-zero carbon emissions by 2050 goal.

Today, Neste proudly stands as the world’s leading producer of sustainable aviation fuel. Neste MY Sustainable Aviation Fuel enables airlines, businesses, and individual travelers to significantly reduce the carbon footprint of their air travel or transport. It’s not the sole solution, but it’s a solution available and in use today. In addition to SAF, Neste’s NEXBTL technology allows us to turn a wide variety of renewable fats and oils into other premium-quality renewable products, such as fuels for road transport and feedstock for polymers and chemicals production.

What’s the most important climate legislation that could pass in the next year?

Regulatory changes supporting more sustainable practices are needed. In aviation, policy frameworks are emerging around the world, driving demand and attracting investments towards more sustainable solutions. Within the E.U., ReFuelEU Aviation is increasing the mandates from 2% in 2025 to 6% in 2030. We expect the E.U. to set an example that can support the aviation industry on its journey towards carbon neutral growth and emission reductions.

What is the single most important action you think the public, or a specific company or government, needs to take in the next year to advance the climate agenda?

To tackle climate change, in addition to ambitious long-term climate and sustainability objectives, we need accelerated concrete and measurable actions as we are not yet on track to meet the goals of the Paris Agreement. In order to maintain the course, decision-makers need to hold on to the long-term climate ambition commitment and the required intermediate milestones related to global greenhouse gas reduction in spite of a number of other pressing challenges. For the E.U. member states for instance, implementing the E.U.’s ambitious Fit-for-55 climate package into national legislation is a pressing matter. We need climate actions in several sectors and all solutions are needed.

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