Eric Rondolat, CEO Philips Lighting – COP21 Energy Day

Good afternoon ladies and gentlemen.

The future of our planet comes at a price.

But, as it stands, we’ve reached the climate change checkout and all the contributions from around the world have proved insufficient to prevent a potentially catastrophic rise in global temperatures.

While an encouraging first step, the collective pledges of every country participating at COP21 to reduce greenhouse gas emissions are not enough to stop the earth heating up by more than 2C by the end of the century.

So how can we plug the gap?

The world must set more ambitious goals to improve energy efficiency. But there are two reasons why this is a cause for celebration and not hand-wringing:


  • Firstly, energy efficiency is not another hair shirt in an age of austerity – quite the opposite in fact.

    Not only can new technologies deliver superior services at a fraction of the energy cost, they can also bring huge social and economic benefits. Research shows that doubling the annual rate of energy efficiency improvement from 1.3% to 3% would create six million jobs around the world by the end of the decade. And it would slash the global energy bill by more than EUR 2 trillion by 2030.
  • Secondly, the means to achieving greater energy efficiency are not elusive, they don’t have to be invented – they exist today, we simply have to embrace them.

    We can double the current rate of energy efficiency improvement simply by making better use of technology available now.


Take LED street lighting, for example. We all know it’s highly efficient – at least 40% more than conventional lighting. But by connecting LEDs to enable remote management and provide light only on demand, energy savings of up to 80% can be unlocked. And yet, we are failing to make the most of these opportunities.

There are around 300 million street lights across the world – most of them in cities – and yet only about 10% are LEDs… and just 1% are connected. If the world switched to LED, it would reduce total global electricity consumption by at least 8%.

Our focus must be on towns and cities, as they currently consume 70% of the world’s energy supply. And with urban population predicted to nearly double by 2050, we must seize the moment.

With this in mind, action is needed in two key areas. We must accelerate renovation of existing buildings and urban infrastructure to make the best possible use of energy-efficient devices. And we must also ensure, as towns and cities emerge and grow, that they are built using the latest energy-efficient technology.


In the developing world, this even gives countries the opportunity to leapfrog developed nations as they can start from scratch with greener, money saving systems while the rest of the world has to play catch-up. These technologies also have the power to fundamentally improve people’s quality of life.

Currently, some 1.1 billion people across the world are trapped in light poverty, as they are denied access to a reliable electricity supply. 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 can end this injustice – at a fraction of the cost of kerosene or typical grid infrastructure – while stimulating social and economic development as communities are brought out of the dark.

I’m proud to say that my company is helping to tackle this issue by gifting solar powered LED lighting to many of these communities. However, given the scale of the challenge, more must be done…and fast.

In pleading for a global wakeup call on the urgency of prioritizing energy efficiency and reducing carbon emissions, I believe one must practice what they preach. That’s why Philips today makes the following commitment: we pledge to become a carbon neutral company by 2020.

Over the past two decades, we’ve cut our use of energy from non-renewable sources from 92% down to 45% this year – and now we believe we can go further still.

As leaders in the lighting industry we will also continue to drive the Global Lighting Sector Transition.

Our latest research shows that a global transition to LED lighting will reduce global carbon emissions by 1,400 Megatonnes by 2030 and save the equivalent of EUR 272 billion.

Amid rapid population growth and a higher demand for energy, the time to act is now. 

I urge world leaders to put a stake in the ground to drive faster, decisive action to combat climate change through energy efficiency.

To make a real difference requires the potent combination of political will, entrepreneurial drive and new financial models.

I’m honoured to be here today to represent Philips – both as a supporter of the UN’s SE4ALL initiative and as a founding member of its Energy Efficiency Accelerator Platform. This platform shows that focussed energy efficiency measures – like those I have touched on today – can bridge the gap between our current path and the one we need to be on to save the planet. And it is the crucial link between governments with the US department of energy a leading example -, businesses, NGOs and markets to share their expertise, work together and make this is a reality. Because I believe together we can achieve what is needed to safeguard the future of our planet.

But delaying now, at this crucial juncture, risks saddling the world with an environmental and moral debt that we will never be able to repay.

It is up to us all to make the right decisions.

Thank you.