Enabling households to become more aware of their energy consumption and empowering them to reach a zero-emission future

Our vision of a healthy future is one where energy is completely free of emissions

The buildup of greenhouse gasses in our atmosphere is currently leading to a global temperature rise, of which we are already seeing the destructive consequences to our planet and society. To bring a halt to the temperature rise and eventually reduce the global temperature, we must eliminate greenhouse gas emissions. The Dutch government has created a roadmap to reach a zero-emission economy by 2050, reducing emissions by 49% in 2030, from 1990 levels. 75% of global carbon emissions come from the production and use of fossil fuels. Therefore, one of the key changes that must be made to reach a zero-emission economy is phasing out the usage of fossil fuels. While government policies play a major role in guiding the energy transition, this transition cannot occur without companies' proactive involvement.

The energy transition has many components and cannot be easily dissected into smaller problems. In broad terms, we can say on the one hand that energy supply is coming from finite sources such as oil and gas. On the other hand, we as consumers are largely unaware of our individual contribution to the problem. Increasingly, promising technological advances are making clean energy more commercially attractive, such as higher energy demand/supply prediction accuracy or improved battery performance. However, to facilitate the transition to an emission-free future, we believe an improvement in awareness is necessary.

Gradually, people are becoming aware that global warming is taking place and that this is a threat to the future of our planet. This awareness is crucial in order to create the motivation to change the current energy system.

Most people are not aware of their own energy consumption and, because climate change is a global phenomenon, the relation between cause and effect is not “felt”. The correlation between heating houses in the Netherlands and flooding on a Pacific island is not apparent.

CAIT Climate Data shows that the average Dutch citizen emits 9,5 tons of CO2 per year, which is twice the global average. Most of these emissions are related to electricity and heat, followed by transport (including aviation/shipping). Ultimately, all energy consumption is driven by individual demand. Either direct consumption, by the way we heat our houses or drive our cars, or indirect, through our consumption of food and industrial goods, for example.

There are a number of ways in which the average individual can have a material impact on its carbon footprint. First, by reducing consumption. This can be done by improving insulation of houses, for example. Second, by transitioning away from fossil fuels towards renewable energy. For example, this can be done by using solar panels. Lastly, an average citizen can reduce their carbon footprint by implementing a behavioral change. For this, you can think of less air travel or reduced meat consumption.

For companies, there are various approaches to contribute to the necessary transition towards the use of renewable energy sources. The area in which we as Breathe believe we can make the most impact is by enabling households and individuals to make a positive contribution in and around the house. At the moment, we are exploring options to work with companies that deliver energy as a service, for example by making homes energy neutral through the use of heat-pumps, or companies that aspire to directly connect suppliers of renewable energy with households.

For companies such as these, Breathe can help define the purpose a company wants to fulfil in its environment and can help align capital, governance, structure and culture towards fulfilling this purpose. Companies with a clear, authentic purpose will be more aligned internally and externally. Having a clear purpose defined will enable them not only to gear their strategy towards fulfilling this purpose but will also guide and motivate their employees in their day-to-day decision-making. This will allow them to move quicker towards reaching a clean, safe future by utilising the full potential of their organisation.

It is important to recognise that the energy transition requires many players to take action. Our focus lies on enabling households to become more aware of their energy consumption and enabling them to make the transition to a zero-emission future. Therefore, while we work to contribute as a partner to many players in the energy sector, we also hope to inspire other companies (and institutions) in their pursuit of purpose and a zero-emission future. This way, we can drive progress on a system level and provide long-lasting benefits for all.