The European Union is at a crossroads. Citizens are struggling to cope with high energy prices and the economy is suffering an unprecedented geopolitical crisis, putting at stake Europe's capacity to invest and innovate.
Fragmentation is a burden that slows down Europe’s ability to decarbonise, in the absence of a clear and common vision on the future of industry. The new political leadership is presented with an opportunity to restate its commitment to the European project, breaking down national silos and sustaining European values in a globalised, interconnected economy.
The future of Europe starts at home. Present in most European homes, household appliances offer a variety of ways to make everyday life simple and sustainable. By saving water, energy, and detergent, or by preventing food waste, consumers can save money and live sustainably at home. It is time to leverage all decarbonisation means equally and make them accessible to all.
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Home appliances are strategic enablers of sustainability. From refrigerators, washing machines, vacuum cleaners, irons, to air conditioners and heat pumps, they are present in most European homes and can significantly reduce energy consumption and carbon emissions.
Today, over 80% of the primary energy comes from fossil fuels and only 3% from intermittent renewable energy. This means we need a doubling of progress on energy efficiency to avoid increasing the frequency of extreme weather and slash emissions that are rapidly warming our planet. Home appliances play an instrumental role to get there, delivering increasingly high levels of energy and resource efficiency through purposeful business models, looking to broaden energy access across Europe and beyond.
To reduce and optimise energy consumption while decreasing carbon emissions, Europe needs to ensure a general dissemination of advanced sustainable technologies for all citizens, including those who cannot afford them. Rewards and incentives must be put in place to make highly energy efficient products accessible to all. The 27 EU Member States have different budgetary capacities. Some can afford to provide greater support against high prices, some others cannot. Long-lasting social support measures should enable low-income households to durably use less energy, by transitioning to more energy-efficient appliances.
About 55% of European households cannot afford to buy a dishwasher. Energy poverty is not just an issue in developing countries but also in Europe, currently affecting 90 million households. The principle of ‘leaving no one behind’ is a key concept under the EU Green Deal and is strictly related to the climate emergency we are facing.
A more circular economy in which products and materials are repaired, reused or recycled, will contribute to make Europe stronger against future international crises. As we decarbonise all sectors of the economy, it is crucial to accompany the workforce in this equally massive societal change. The focus should be put on professional reconversion in carbon-intensive regions.