10 May 2019

The Power of Us

Written by Peter Vanacker

Peter Vanacker in Neste Passion for Renewal 2019

I am an optimist. And I am so despite the news that often tell me that there is little reason for optimism.

The challenges we are facing in terms of the climate crisis are real, and the consequences of the crisis are growing exponentially.

Earlier this week the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) released a comprehensive report on the alarming state of our nature and biodiversity. The report followed the same straightforwardness with the IPCC report published in October 2018: the consequences caused by the climate crisis are already here, and they are getting worse. 

I believe we can still solve the crisis, but only if we act together and if we act now. 

The word “we” is important since nobody – not the government, not the companies, not the consumers – can do it alone. We need all of us. And we need the power we have in the notion of “us”. 

Because what sets us humans apart from other species is our ability to cooperate in vast numbers creatively. 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.

So I am not worried about finding solutions to solve the climate crisis. We already have the solutions. My concern lies in whether we can gather the common will to implement these solutions fast enough.


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We don’t always know how to react to an emergency, but we love to seize the opportunity.

While climate change is a crisis that needs to be stopped, we also can see it as an opportunity. Because that – seizing opportunities – is what brings out the best in us humans, and pushes us to act.

We have learned to turn sun rays into energy. We have learned to turn waste fat into fuels. Where there is an opportunity, we are able to create miracles together.

Therefore, I remain an optimist. Or even a stubborn optimist like Christiana Figueres, a global authority on climate change, has invited us to be.

Peter Vanacker
Peter Vanacker
President and CEO, Neste