Ignoring the energy transition is a threat to the climate, but will also undermine the ability of companies to hire the best talent and attract future clients, argues Helene Egebøl, CEO of Schneider Electric Denmark
I attend a lot of gatherings where heads of large and small businesses discuss the world’s climate challenges and the energy transition. Generally, people are alarmed that time seems to be running out and that politicians all over the world are not ambitious enough when it comes to setting up initiatives to reduce global warming.
Usually, I raise my hand in such gatherings and suggest that instead of panicking or waiting for politicians to act, every business can, and should, contribute to tackling the climate challenge and accelerating the transition. I am no scientist and I do not have all the answers. But I do know that the efficient and intelligent energy saving systems we need are already here. We just need to use them. This comes as a surprise to a lot of people I meet.
Using data is key to optimising businesses and reducing energy use, and allows customers to be much more energy efficient than EU rules demand.
When businesses question what can be done to act sustainably and help reduce global warming, I show them our data analytics solutions and explain how cloud-based software makes it possible to gather and monitor information from production machinery to predict and minimise downtime, and to save energy.
I tell them that 40% of all energy consumption in Europe comes from buildings and that intelligent systems to reduce this number dramatically already exist. By monitoring building systems with automated fault detection and diagnostics it is possible to save energy, time and money.
During discussions, it becomes evident to more and more participants that simple solutions can take us a long way. Regulating and balancing energy production and use in buildings and making sure that heating and cooling systems are never turned on at the same time may sound obvious, but this is often the case in the buildings we inspect. Our experiences show companies can become up to 50% more energy effective if they actively control building spaces and energy management.
Indeed, the way we consume energy is just as important as moving from fossil-based energy to zero-carbon solutions.
Studies show that millennials — people born between 1980 and 2000 — act more responsibly than their parents because they have grown up with the constant fear of a climate crisis. This shows me the world is heading in a direction where sustainable thinking and responsible business management will be the keys to success.
I am convinced that if businesses are not focused on protecting the environment and accelerating the energy transition, they will be unable to sell their products or attract talent in the future.
In a recent survey in the US, three-quarters of millennial workers said they would be willing to accept a smaller salary to work for a company that is environmentally responsible. And a survey carried out in 2018 in the UK, revealed that more than two-thirds of millennials would prefer to work in an environmentally-friendly job.
Failure to change in line with the demands of the energy transition will not only harm the climate, but also make it more difficult to recruit the bright young people needed for businesses to be successful.
This is another reason to change course and do something. Right now.
The technology is ready. Your clients are ready. Your current and future employees are ready. Are you?
Schneider Electric was recently awarded the international sustainability award The Circulars 2019 by the World Economic Forum and Young Global Leaders, a Swiss-based not-for-profit organisation.
Do you have a thoughtful response to the opinion expressed here? Do you have an opinion regarding an aspect of the global energy transition you would like to share with other FORESIGHT readers? If so, please send a short pitch of 200 words and a sentence explaining why you are the right person to deliver this opinion to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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