By Simon De Cesare, President, Malta Business Bureau
This opinion piece was featured on The Times of Malta on Sunday, 20 January 2019.
Energy efficiency in the business world is becoming a policy priority of increasing importance. The EU is trailblazing in globally leading legislation aimed at improving our businesses’ energy consumption. Traditionally an agenda item for the environmental lobby, it is today becoming an increasingly important agenda item for the business lobby too. The reason is simple – it makes business sense.
Businesses exist to make profit. For energy efficiency policies to work, they must enable businesses to support that core objective – making profit. Businesses increase their profit by either increasing sales or reducing overheads. Common thinking is to increase sales. As an entrepreneur and business owner, I believe that reducing overheads is the more efficient way of doing so.
Reducing overheads through energy efficiency often requires lower investment than increasing sales. Furthermore, an energy efficiency project typically lasts a few months to a year to conclude, after which the benefits extend well into the future.
The Malta Business Bureau is the EU business advisory body to the Chamber of Commerce and the Malta Hotels and Restaurants Association. With an office in Brussels and Malta, we have an intimate understanding of both EU policy and vision. I would like to emphasise vision here. As well as local business conditions, we believe that there is an excellent opportunity for local businesses to move towards the EU vision on energy efficiency.
2019 is a very important year for energy efficiency in Malta and throughout the EU. The 2020 targets are literally right round the corner and efforts need to be maintained through 2019 and 2020, to ensure that every stakeholder does their part in reaching national objectives.
2019 is an important year for another reason. Non-SMEs, the largest companies, throughout the EU are legally obliged to complete ISO compliant energy audits. These audits will reveal the potential within EU industry for energy efficiency. Apart from supporting these businesses to identify opportunities for increased profitability, they will also generate critical policy-informing data.
They will reveal energy efficiency measures that are common to all businesses in all sectors throughout the EU, opportunities within specific sectors, and opportunities within specific regions. Crucially, they will also reveal upcoming technologies, as well as opportunities for the financial sector to invest in energy.
This is all very important, as while our immediate focus must be on the 2020 targets, we also need to plan ahead for the more ambitious 2030 targets. As anyone involved in business knows, there are changes that can be made very quickly in the business world. There are also changes which take more time.
Policy work tends to take even longer, simply due to the effort it takes to create the right environment for commerce, social, environmental and financial interests to converge towards a goal over an extended period of time. It is tempting to ignore the 2030 targets, however the groundwork to set the environment in which they can be reached is fast approaching, and in some respects already arrived.
The MBB has been working on energy efficiency since the Energy Efficiency Directive was transposed into Malta law in 2014, supporting the Energy and Water Agency’s Energy Efficiency Partner Initiative, through which businesses commit to regularly taking energy efficiency action, and leading the Investing in Energy Project. We will continue to support the business community in achieving higher levels of energy efficiency, thus increasing businesses’ own profitability while safeguarding the environment.
We are excited about the conclusions of this year’s Non-SME energy audits and would advise all non-SMEs to start their energy audits as soon as possible, to ensure that the December deadline is not missed, to identify opportunities for increased profitability, and to support the achievement of national targets.
Simon De Cesare is president of the Malta Business Bureau. The MBB is the EU-advisory and support office of the Malta Chamber of Commerce, Enterprise and Industry and the Malta Hotels and Restaurants Association.