Schneider tells WEF to adopt smart energy

  • January 17, 2024
  • Steve Rogerson

Far greater deployment of existing smart technologies is needed to keep climate change from spiralling out of control, according to Schneider Electric at this week’s World Economic Forum’s annual meeting in Davos, Switzerland.

Accelerating climate change, geopolitical tensions, see-sawing energy prices and pressure from stakeholders to address these risks, have pushed environmental sustainability and energy resilience to the top of the corporate and policy agenda in recent years.

Several senior Schneider Electric executives are attending the meeting.

“With energy accounting for 80% of carbon emissions, the energy transition is central to decarbonisation,” said Peter Herweck, CEO of Schneider Electric. “The potential of AI is currently capturing everyone’s attention. But let’s not forget that existing technologies – both renewable energy generation and digital and electrification tools that lower energy demand by rendering sites and operations far more energy efficient – can sharply reduce emissions now. There’s no time to wait for tomorrow’s solutions when much more can be achieved with what we have today.”

Action from the private sector by companies around the globe is key to lowering emissions. Encouragingly, the business world is increasingly making commitments to sustainability and decarbonisation. More than 4200 companies worldwide have set emissions-reduction targets validated by the Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi), for example.

The power of energy efficiency, in particular, is gaining more recognition. Last year, Schneider Electric partnered with the International Energy Agency to bring together government and business leaders for a major conference on the topic.

A report published by the World Economic Forum this month ( found that acting on energy consumption through energy savings, energy efficiency and value cooperation partnerships could unlock up to $2tn in savings for the wider economy, and avoid building 3000 additional power stations if actions are taken before 2030.

And research ( by Schneider Electric recently showed that installing digital building and power management in existing buildings could sharply reduce their operational carbon emissions, with a payback period of less than three years.

Another key area of focus is tackling the indirect emissions generated by companies’ Scope 3 emissions activities. These come from their upstream and downstream value chains and account for the largest part of a company’s carbon emissions, more than 70%, according to the UN Global Compact.

The global supply-chain disruptions of the past few years have helped push this topic up the corporate agenda. More than two-thirds of business leaders interviewed for a report last year by Schneider Electric, in partnership with Women Action Sustainability (WAS), said regulatory pressure was pushing them to initiate decarbonisation planning with supply-chain partners. Those surveyed also said they were seeing an increased demand for supply-chain decarbonisation information from investors and/or financial entities.

“Businesses that are serious about decarbonisation need to look beyond their own operations and address their entire value chain,” said Olivier Blum, executive vice-president at Schneider Electric. “And they need to realise that encouraging and helping their suppliers, customers and other business partners to strive for greater energy efficiency – through electrification and digital technologies – and cleaner energy procurement is a huge part of the answer.”