B4E, the Business for Environment Global Summit, is the world's leading international conference for dialogue and business-driven action for the environment. The summit addresses the most urgent environmental challenges facing the world today. Important topics on the agenda include resource efficiency, renewable energies, new business models and climate policy and strategies. CEOs and senior executives join leaders from government, international agencies, NGOs and media to discuss environmental issues, forge partnerships and explore innovative solutions for a greener future.
The 5th B4E Climate Summit in London will bring together more than 400 global leaders from business, government, media and NGOs to discuss the long-term outlook for energy efficiency, emerging technologies, financing and policy change. Delegates will produce recommendations for industry, governments and civil society to transform energy efficiency in buildings, mobility and manufacturing, to power global growth.
Humanity is increasingly living beyond our means, with global consumption of the world’s natural resources already reaching 50% more than the Earth's ecosystems can replenish. The 8th annual B4E Global Summit will gather business leaders, NGOs and policy-makers from around the world to present the latest innovations and technologies that will shape the future of natural resource management and provide positive impact solutions that can replenish more than we consume.
High-level, interactive and inter-changeable working groups will produce recommendations for scaling and accelerating technologies, innovative finance, policy change and collaborative approaches to manage, protect and restore our water, forests, biodiversity, renewable resources and atmosphere.
Brussels, Belgium – The ‘2015 Energy Productivity and Economic Prosperity Index’ launched recently reveals the huge potential for societies to raise economic performance and extend significant environmental and social benefits through improved energy productivity. The Index, authored by The Lisbon Council, Ecofys and Quintel Intelligence and commissioned by Royal Philips (AEX: PHI, NYSE: PHG), is the first global report to rank countries by their energy productivity – based on their economic output per unit of energy consumed. The report warns that the current rate of energy productivity improvement – around 1.3% worldwide each year – is too slow to keep pace with the rising energy demand.
The report finds that most energy productivity gains will need to come from improvements to residential and non-residential buildings. A simple illustration of energy productivity is boiling an egg, where only 2% of the energy consumed goes into producing the boiled egg. Similarly, nearly 98% of all energy we use in the process of production is being wasted. Just by increasing the use of technology today, such as energy-efficient appliances, LED lighting and insulation, European households could reduce their energy bills by a third. Furthermore, overall energy consumption in the EU could be cut by 35% by more than doubling the rate of the region’s energy productivity improvement from close to 1.5% to 3% per year by 2030.
“Within the range of energy efficiency opportunities, LED lighting is a key contributor in addressing the soaring energy demand of the future as it already can deliver a 500% energy productivity improvement in average households. And by connecting LED lighting to sensors, apps and controls, even greater efficiencies may be realized. It is dramatically changing the way people experience and interact with light at home, at work and in their cities”, said Harry Verhaar, Head of Global Public and Government Affairs at Philips Lighting. According to the High-Energy Productivity Growth Scenario presented in the report, nearly 12 European households could be lit with a 1000 KWh of electricity, which is roughly what it takes to light two households today.
Miguel Arias Cañete, European Commissioner for Climate Action and Energy, added: “Energy efficiency is a powerful instrument for job creation with great potential for stimulating economic growth and EU competitiveness. Energy productivity provides us with an excellent framework to harness underutilized resources. I welcome the publication of this report. It will help us in coming years in using innovation to drive efficiency and improving Europe’s performance in this key area.”
The report urges policymakers to set more ambitious targets to improve energy productivity. It demonstrates that high levels of energy efficiency will contribute to global economic growth: doubling energy productivity could create more than 6 million jobs globally by 2020 and reduce the global fossil fuel bill by more than EUR 2 trillion by 2030. To achieve this, further progress in the world’s six largest economies – the US, Russia, China, Japan, India and the EU – is most important as they account for 60% of global GDP and 65% of global energy demand.
“World leaders are convinced that energy is the golden thread connecting economic growth, increased social equity and a healthy environment, but we still need to enforce more ambitious goals to improve energy productivity”, said Kandeh Yumkella, UN Under-Secretary-General and CEO of Sustainable Energy for All. “This report helps to focus minds on these goals and their benefits. Doubling of the global rate of improvement in energy efficiency by 2030 is our shared objective, underpinned by the Global Energy Efficiency Accelerator Platform launched by the UN last year.”
Global energy productivity highlights:
The Index ranks countries by the amount of GDP they produce for every unit of energy they consume. This differs from energy efficiency which means using less energy to deliver the same service.
Hong Kong topped the list with an energy productivity of EUR 456 billion of GDP per exajoule (one quintillion – 1018 – joules) consumed. Cuba came second, boasting EUR 365 billion GDP per exajoule. Columbia, Singapore and Switzerland made up the top five.
The United Kingdom is ranked 26th, behind countries such as Sri Lanka, Dominican Republic, Gabon, Philippines, and Albania. Other leading nations trailed further behind with Germany placed 35th, the Netherlands 40th, Japan 51st, France 56th and India 72nd.
The United States, which has pledged to double its energy productivity by 2030, comes 87th. China placed 111th and Russia 114th– both countries with energy productivity well below the world average of EUR 143 billion.
 The 2015 Energy Productivity and Economic Prosperity Index is an effort to gauge the efficiency and effectiveness with which energy resources are being used worldwide. Energy productivity is defined as the volume of services or products that can be generated per unit of energy. It is not the same as energy efficiency, which measures the inverse – i.e. how much energy is needed to produce a given level of output (See International Energy Agency, Key World Energy Statistics 2014, Paris)
This article originally appeared on Philips and is republished with permission.
Earlier last week the B4E Climate Summit was held in London. The President of COP20, Peruvian Minister for the Environment Manuel Pulgar-Vidal Otalora, asked over 100 sustainability and business professionals what corporates, government and society needed to do to become Net Positive.
Simple. Just put more back than you take, right?
If WWF’s latest Living Planet report is an indicator, with over half the world’s animals disappearing since the 1970’s, as a society we are falling way short of net positive biodiversity outcomes.
But can a business define what it means to be net positive or even neutral? How about specifically on carbon, water, or forests? How can they measure and report their impact on both their direct and indirect water use, for example? It seems it is not that easy to describe the point at which you are water neutral.
Net positivism was discussed throughout the day, after it was seeded by the morning’s panel of business and NGO leaders. Where is the neutral line, how far is net positive financially viable and who should regulate this?
Businesses could be encouraged to introduce their own method of measuring and controlling rather than waiting for regulations. Mark Kenber, CEO of the Climate Group, pointed to organisations that are introducing their own carbon pricing as an example of where business can lead and take action ahead of regulation. It was suggested that with ambition, deeper research, analysis and collaboration we can attempt to quantify what it means to be net positive. But what then?
Collaboration was another key focus throughout most discussions. Amongst all the great ideas for businesses to become net positive, there seemed to be a consensus that corporates, civil society, governments and ‘citizens’ needed to work together to research and implement solutions for creating a restorative economy.
I asked David Nussbaum, WWF-UK Chief Executive, where he thought business could start. 'Every business should be asking themselves what they can do to restore nature that has been lost. We need more disruptive thinking, well beyond 'business as usual', and innovative partnerships that drive change at scale'.
Many of the solutions discussed on the day are being written up to be sent to Lima in December. We have twelve months until COP21. Will Net Positive be on the table as a way of framing the debate or is that too ambitious?
In any case, Manuel Pulgar-Vidal might tell you not to go to Paris. His closing remark to the morning’s introduction highlighted his ambition for COP20 and beyond. “Don’t come to Lima, unless you want to change the world”.
Dean Cambridge, WWF-UK
Natural photosynthesis—the remarkable ability of plants to transform sunlight into useful energy—powers virtually all life on Earth. But that’s not enough for some people.
Caltech chemistry professor Nate Lewis and his colleagues aim to show Mother Nature how it really should be done. Their goal is to produce fuel as energy-dense as gasoline and as friendly to the environment as a daffodil.
“Plants are the wrong color to be optimum energy-conversion machines,” Lewis said. “They should be black like solar cells, not green.” He also points out that plants max out their energy conversion at only 10 percent of the light intensity available on a bright, sunny day. The remaining 90 percent of the solar energy they receive goes unused.
Nature presumably has good reasons for wasting so much sunlight. After all, a plant only has to harness enough energy to run its own metabolism, not to satisfy the needs of an energy-hungry civilization. But the Joint Center for Artificial Photosynthesis (JCAP), of which Lewis is scientific director, has more ambitious goals. According to Lewis, artificial photosynthesis will compare to what plants do in much the same way that artificial flight compares to what birds do. We take our inspiration from nature and then strive to surpass it.
JCAP, a U.S. Department of Energy “Energy Innovation Hub,” is America’s largest research program dedicated to turning sunshine into fuel. The artificial photosynthesis system it is developing promises to produce energy-packed liquid fuel at 10 times the efficiency of plants, using only sunlight, water and carbon dioxide as ingredients.
Unlike fossil fuels, JCAP’s product will not contribute to the climate-changing greenhouse effect. And unlike some biofuels, such as those derived from corn, it will not compete with food crops for farmland, require fertilizer or consume large amounts of water. Just set it up in the sunshine and watch the fuel drip out.
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