Royal Philips today committed to becoming carbon neutral by 2020. As Philips joins world leaders in Paris for COP21, the company pledged to play its part in reducing greenhouse gas emissions by cutting its carbon footprint to zero.

From 2007 until 2015, Philips expects to have reduced its carbon footprint by 40%, but wants to accelerate its emissions reductions and achieve carbon neutrality in the next five years. Philips plans to meet the goal through a multi-pronged attack on the way it uses energy, aimed to drive down energy consumption in its own operations by reducing energy use, logistics and business travel.

An action already taken towards this goal is Philips’ membership of the RE100 program – a collaborative initiative of influential businesses committed to 100% renewable electricity. Philips already increased its use of renewable energy from 8% to 55% in 6 years (2008-2014).

The announcement comes as Eric Rondolat, Chief Executive Officer, Philips Lighting, addressed the COP21 Energy Day Summit urging leaders to set more aggressive targets to prevent climate change. “As it stands, we’ve reached the climate change checkout and all the contributions from around the world have proved insufficient to prevent a potentially catastrophic rise in global temperatures. The world must set more ambitious goals to improve energy efficiency,” he said. “Faster adoption of LED lighting, and a drive to renovate existing city infrastructure and greater use of solar-powered LED lighting would have a huge impact.”

The Intended National Determined Contributions (INDCs) from countries participating at COP21 are predicted to contain global warming to between 2.7°C and 4°C by the end of the century, studies show. This is an improvement on the business-as-usual scenario of a 6.5°C rise, but falls short of the globally agreed target of 2°C. However, research indicates that the world could double the annual rate of energy efficiency improvement using technologies already available. This would deliver half the emission reductions needed to meet the 2°C goal.

Mr Rondolat stressed the importance of the lighting industry in helping improve energy efficiency, as it accounts for 19% of global electricity consumption. Philips has gone further by developing connected LED lighting systems – to enable remote management and provide light only on demand – that can deliver energy savings of up to 80%. The company has undertaken more than 260 connected street lighting projects around the world since 2011, from picturesque towns in Italy to megacities like Los Angeles.

Mr Rondolat highlighted that significant progress is being made in the global lighting sector. Even as global trends like population growth, urbanization and the rise of the middle class will lead to an increase of 35% in the number of light points by 2030, the vast improvements in LED and connected lighting could contribute to delivering higher than previously foreseen carbon emission reductions. The global transition to LED lighting will bring by 2030 an energy saving of 53% compared to business as usual scenario.

He said new business models, financing options, incentives, and a move towards circular service models would stimulate shorter renovation cycles. But he added that government regulatory bodies must also be prepared to set high but attainable energy standards to encourage faster adoption.