Unprecedented economic opportunity for businesses that move to renewable, efficient energy, says Harry Verhaar (Philips)

“Despite the necessity and urgency to act, which has never been higher, this is an unprecedented opportunity”, says Harry Verhaar, Head of Global Public & Government Affairs at Philips Lighting, of how low carbon solutions make business sense, in The Climate Group’s latest Climate TV interview.
“Sustainable development is one big innovation agenda,” Harry Verhaar notes. “Not only can we adopt more widespread economic beneficial solutions that have less impact on the quality of our living environments, but also all of them improve our quality of life.”
“Moving to energy efficiency and renewable energy powered solutions and factories just makes plain economic sense. We are reducing our [carbon] footprints, powering our factories with solar and wind energy, lowering our overall energy bill, making our products more competitive.”

LED: Lower emissions delivered 
At Climate Week NYC this year, Philips Lighting, the global leader in lighting, joined The Climate Group in calling for every single city and utility around the world to schedule the switch of their street lighting to LED by 2025. The Climate Group launched a major global campaign called LED = Lower Emissions Delivered that encourages local governments, cities and utilities to embrace the carbon and cost benefits of switching to LED.
“The move to new LED and connected LED street lighting is encouraging,” said Harry Verhaar. “However, the current renovation rates of existing streetlights are too slow. We need to double the renovation rate so that we keep pace with the rising demand for energy. Renewing existing infrastructure with LEDs needs to be a priority if cities are to realize the benefits of saving money and energy, and better lit, safer streets.”
There is a desire by cities to make the switch, and technological barriers that would have hindered the transition to wide scale LED adoption have been overcome. In LED trials, those cities like New York, London, Kolkata and Sydney have shown to be achieving major energy and cost savings while lowering their emissions.
“About half of a city’s energy bill is lighting,” Harry Verhaar says. “For them, seeing the opportunities with LEDs where they can halve – or even up to 70% – reduce their energy bill, quite often they can spend the money elsewhere or they can reduce public budget deficits.”
Our new report titled The Big Switch states that a major switch to LEDs on a worldwide scale could generate energy savings of 50-70% and cut carbon emissions equivalent to the UK and Spain combined.

Energy poverty
Another shift that has been pointed to as alleviating health problems and reducing global emissions, is providing clean and renewable energy to those who do not have it.
“There are 1.1 billion people who lack access to electricity. So it is also our mission before 2030 to eradicate light poverty, so moving away from kerosene and out of fossil fuel that they use for lighting. That also results in 1.5 million casualties because of the many health problems throughout the year. [We can] bring them onto a socio-economic development path.”
In order to address the issue of energy poverty, Harry Verhaar reiterates the need for renovation, stating that, “within existing infrastructure, we need to accelerate renovation and move to connected LED. Then for new infrastructure, in communities and cities and emerging developing countries, we should leap-frog to solar energy solutions, to zero energy lighting.”
The international climate negotiations (COP21) coming to a head in Paris this December, where governments are expected to produce an agreement for addressing climate change, is a major component in delivering the transformational change needed for a prosperous economy powered by clean technologies like LED.
Harry Verhaar concludes: “COP21 and everything that happens thereafter is not about the climate negotiations, but should be about climate collaboration for a better future."

This article was originally published on