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Helen Clarkson
CEO, The Climate Group

The COVID-19 pandemic has hit the private sector hard. 2020 has presented challenges to business communities that no amount of risk management or careful financial planning could have foreseen. As governments across the world tentatively plan for economic recovery, the private sector is still very much struggling
– with massive job losses and looming global recession. This might seem like a moment to turn away from climate action, and to push sustainability measures to the bottom of business agendas. However, a
recent poll of the Climate Group’s 350+ business members showed an overwhelming commitment to sustainability despite the challenges of the pandemic. Of the private sector professionals surveyed, 97% said their longterm sustainability strategy remains unchanged.

Nearly all our business members (96%) feel that climate action is just as, if not more, important to their business now compared to pre COVID-19, reflecting an ongoing sense of urgency around climate action. Unless we keep our resolve focused on halving emissions by 2030, we risk more crisis events in the future. Improving energy productivity is a proven way to add enormous value to global GDP, cut costs, and help companies deliver on their climate commitments. In the troubled seas of the postpandemic economy, business should look to energy efficiency as a life raft. Our EP100 initiative, in partnership with the Alliance to Save Energy, is working with a leading group of energysmart companies committed to improving their energy productivity to drive wider corporate action. On-site energy generation, retrofitting buildings with efficient LED lighting, and installing upgraded insulation can improve a building’s efficiency level to over 90%. Working toward more energysmart buildings is particularly timely in 2020. With lower occupancy and use of commercial and industrial buildings as many companies continue to work remotely, there is a unique moment of opportunity to refurbish and retrofit workspaces. Working with the World Green Building Council, businesses can join EP100 via the Net Zero Carbon Buildings pathway, committing to owning, occupying and developing buildings that operate at net zero carbon emissions by 2030. EP100 companies are adapting and rethinking ways of working toward more energy-smart buildings. Our members know that action is not optional, and it’s been great to see EP100’s membership grow despite the challenges of the pandemic with 13 companies joining on World Environment Day in June. More productive use of energy in commercial and industrial buildings also generates significant savings for businesses
– more important than ever in the current climate. As companies look for every opportunity to cut costs and improve profitability, shareholders should be asking their companies what commitments they are undertaking to create more energy-efficient workspaces. Businesses can look to EP100 for examples of corporate leadership in this field. Fashion retailer H&M, a member of EP100 since 2017, cut electricity use in stores by over 10% in three years and has saved over €120,000 from replacing 9,250 lightbulbs with LEDs. The EP100 Cooling Challenge helps our business members play a leading role in mitigating climate impact by investing in energy-efficient cooling that will also generate substantial financial savings. Implementing energy efficiency measures in buildings can help turn the financial troubles of 2020 into financial savings –creating new green collar jobs, reducing energy bills, and cutting costs. A recent report by the International Energy Agency (IEA) on sustainable recovery in the energy sector found that energy efficiency measures would deliver the largest overall emissions reductions, and that $1 invested in energy efficiency generates $2 of savings. Businesses can boost their bottom line at a time when this is sorely needed. Energy efficiency initiatives like EP100 are more important than ever to help the private sector get back on its feet – and now is the opportune moment to sign up. 

Helen Clarkson,
CEO, The Climate Group