Greener lighting a solution to climate change

By Eric Rondolat
0 Comment(s)Print E-mail China Daily, February 2, 2016
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Two years ago, Los Angeles began installing 140,000 LED street lights. Last year, the city reported energy savings of 63 percent and cost savings of nearly $9 million. Now consider this: of about 300 million streetlights across the world, only about 10 percent are LEDs. And just 1 percent are connected. Failure to bring this technology to scale would be a missed opportunity.

Energy efficiency does not entail sacrifice-quite the opposite. It can help mitigate climate change, while bringing huge economic and social benefits. Simply doubling our progress in energy efficiency-from the current rate of 1.3 percent to, say, 3 percent per year-would create 6 million new jobs within five years. At the same time, by 2030, that would cut the world's energy bill by more than $2 trillion.

Cleaner, energy-efficient light is also an urgent humanitarian need. About one in seven people are trapped in light poverty. That is 1.1 billion people-they are cut off from the grid with no access to electric light in their houses. Many resort to kerosene lamps and candles, pollutants which claim 1.5 million lives every year through respiratory illnesses and fires.

Off-grid solar LED can end this injustice, at a fraction of the cost of kerosene or grid lighting. Bringing these communities out of darkness would trigger a huge stimulus for development, with positive effects for global growth. These countries have an opportunity to start from scratch with greener, money-saving lighting while the rest of the world still has to play catch-up.

The need is to team up to safeguard the future of our planet.

Making a real difference requires a potent combination of political will, entrepreneurial drive and new financial models. To limit global warming will take a revolution, one that will safeguard the future of our planet by unlocking massive benefits for the economy, for businesses, and for society. Acting together, we can achieve both the detailed targets and the greater vision agreed at the UN climate conference in Paris.

The author is chief executive officer of Philips Lighting.

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