Financing an energy-efficient future for Europe


    July 20, 2020


    Energy saving needs to be front and center in Europe’s recovery plans – the upcoming MFF gives us the opportunity to put it there


    The European Union is on the cusp of a rare opportunity. The upcoming Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF) will set the EU’s budget for the next six years. This is our moment to make good on the promises of the European Green Deal, the blueprint for Europe to take its place as the world leader on energy policy and climate action.


    The COVID-19 pandemic has set the European and global economy on an uncertain path. It’s at this time that strong direction and leadership is needed more than ever.


    We need to make a firm statement to the world that short-term economic recovery isn’t at odds with our long-term goals or with the actions we must take to ensure the future of life on our planet.

    Financing Energy efficient

    Green recovery


    As Chairman of the European Alliance to Save Energy, I firmly believe that green recovery must be front and center in the European Commission and European Council’s stimulus plans. Energy saving is the best possible place to start, because not only does it help us deliver on our climate ambitions, but it actually pays for itself with the associated reduction in energy costs.

    Energy saving not only helps us deliver on climate ambitions, but it actually pays for itself with reduced energy costs”

    A great example is the Renovation Wave initiative, which aims to step up the speed and quality of our building renovation. The EU building sector is a powerhouse of energy consumption, responsible for 40% of the EU’s energy consumption and 36% of its greenhouse gas emissions.


    A large majority of Europe’s buildings were built long before energy efficiency was on our radar, and most are decidedly inefficient. We know this, and yet only 1% of buildings undergo renovation each year. That’s a huge missed opportunity.


    If we bring this renovation rate to 3% per year, we will slash the energy consumption of our building sector, create local, skilled jobs, and improve the quality of life for EU citizens.

    Green energy Windmill

    Infrastructure for the future


    Investing in public infrastructure pays dividends, too. Signify provides connected street lighting that helps governments achieve carbon reduction goals while reducing electricity costs and enhancing people’s quality of life.


    On the longer term, investing in smart street lighting lays the foundation that enables future infrastructure projects down the line, like adding sensors and cameras, or 5G connectivity, all housed discreetly in the same poles. Such technology also provides a convenient means to deliver smart city services to citizens.


    In fact, the EU Investment Bank has already made it easier for municipalities to make these big changes. Public infrastructure projects of this sort need not appear on the balance sheet, so governments can make progress without contributing to public debt.

    Corporate leadership


    Saving electricity is also a quick win for private companies. With connected indoor lighting, building managers can rely on sensors to only illuminate rooms that are occupied and not already lit by sunlight.


    And in this time of the coronavirus pandemic, lighting systems can help manage occupancy levels, indicate hotspots for intensive cleaning, and get employees back to the office in a safer way.

    Financing Green Energy

    Walking the talk


    As corporate leaders, we must also be prepared to demonstrate our commitment to play our own, vital role. I am proud that Signify will be 100% carbon neutral in 2020, and we call upon our peers to make the same commitment by 2030 at the latest.


    Likewise, governments and municipalities can show leadership by committing to energy saving in their own buildings and joining initiatives like having city councils joining the Net Zero Carbon Buildings (NZCB) program of the WorldGBC and adopting Ministerial EV100 projects – supported by The Climate Group – to advance cleaner, greener transportation.


    I’ve said before that having a goal with no action is dreaming and taking action without a goal is sleepwalking.


    The MFF is Europe’s time for action, and the moment for true leaders to make the commitments needed to cut our emissions and give our children the inheritance of a more livable planet.

    About the author:

    Harry Verhaar


    Harry Verhaar


    Head of Global Public and Government Affairs, Signify

    For further information, please contact:

    Signify Global Integrated Communications
    Neil Pattie
    Tel: + 31 6 15 08 48 17

    About Signify


    Signify (Euronext: LIGHT) is the world leader in lighting for professionals and consumers and lighting for the Internet of Things. Our Philips products, Interact connected lighting systems and data-enabled services, deliver business value and transform life in homes, buildings and public spaces. With 2020 sales of EUR 6.5 billion, we have approximately 39,000 employees and are present in over 70 countries. We unlock the extraordinary potential of light for brighter lives and a better world. We achieved carbon neutrality in 2020, have been in the Dow Jones Sustainability World Index since our IPO for four consecutive years and were named Industry Leader in 2017, 2018 and 2019. News from Signify is located at the Newsroom, Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram. Information for investors can be found on the Investor Relations page.

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