Eric Rondolat, CEO Philips Lighting – COP21 Action Day

The world’s collective pledges to cut greenhouse gas emissions are not enough on their own to halt climate change. We must do more – and through energy efficiency we have the power to make up the deficit.

The good news is that the technology to achieve the savings required does not have to be invented. It already exists – all we have to do is use it.

LED lighting is a perfect example. It uses 40% less energy than conventional lighting and has been around for years, and yet we still cling to outdated and inefficient technology. As lighting accounts for a staggering 19% of all electricity consumed globally, the potential for LED is clearly huge. In fact, even conservative estimates show that a universal switch globally to LED would slash this figure to just 11%. But that’s only the starting point.

LEDs can now be embedded with sensors and intelligence so they can be connected wirelessly and managed remotely via the internet. This connected lighting can deliver savings of up to 80%, and help…

  • households
  • businesses
  • and particularly cities

…slash their energy bills and environmental impact.

Consider for a moment that there are around 300 million streetlights across the world and yet only about 10% are LEDs… and just 1% are connected. Those who aren’t taking advantage of this technology are missing a trick. Los Angeles saved nearly $9million last year thanks to connected LED street lighting.

I’d like to bust a myth: improving energy efficiency does not require sacrifice – quite the opposite in fact. Not only can it help halt climate change, but it can also bring huge social and economic benefits.

Research shows that doubling the annual rate of energy efficiency improvement would:

  • create six million jobs around the world within five years
  • and cut household energy bills by a third.

There’s also a strong humanitarian need for adopting cleaner, energy-efficient technology.For example, there are 1.1billion people (around 1 in 7 around the world) who are trapped in light poverty because – cut off from the grid – they have no access to electric light. As a result, they are forced to use kerosene lamps and candles to light their homes – which claim 1.5million lives every year through respiratory illnesses and fires.

But off-grid solar LED lighting solutions – like this simple lantern I’m holding – can end this injustice, at a fraction of the cost of kerosene or typical infrastructure…

…while stimulating social and economic development as communities are brought out of the dark.

Think of the revolution sparked by the arrival of electric light in the developed world more than a century ago. Now consider the potential economic stimulus globally if that were replicated in the developing world through affordable, clean light.

There are two things we must do if we’re serious about achieving the kind of energy efficiencies needed to save the planet:

  • Firstly, we must accelerate renovation of existing buildings and urban infrastructure to make the best possible use of energy-efficient solutions.
  • Secondly, all new buildings and infrastructure projects must take advantage of the latest energy-efficient technology.


This even gives developing nations the chance to leapfrog the developed world by starting from scratch with money and energy-saving devices while the rest of us play catch-up.

At Philips, we’re very proud to be founding members – alongside UNEP – of the en.lighten programme. The program has today 66 partner countries and it plays a crucial role in supporting developing countries in making the fondamental switch to energy efficient lighting. 

Because I believe it takes that potent combination of political will, entrepreneurial drive and new financial models to make this energy-efficient future a reality.

We’re standing on the brink of one of the most exciting revolutions in world history – a chance to do things differently, to ignite huge socio-economic gains and safeguard the future of our planet.

It’s time to flick the switch.