Small and medium-sized businesses are highly exposed to today’s high energy prices, and the International Energy Agency and the European Commission today held a high-level event to raise awareness of what governments, businesses and related stakeholders can do to empower and protect these backbones of the European economy.
At the online event, which was led by IEA Executive Director Fatih Birol and European Commissioner for Energy Kadri Simson, the Commission presented support measures that are already available, as well as guidelines and suggestions for what national governments can do. The IEA presented a series of steps companies can take themselves to become more energy efficient and resilient to weather the current energy crisis.
“Today’s global energy crisis sparked by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has dramatically driven up the cost of energy, which is hurting consumers and businesses and putting entire economies at risk,” said Dr Birol. “Small businesses are among the most exposed, and given their key role throughout the economy, they need to be supported in this crisis. That’s why we have teamed up with the European Commission to highlight the practical actions that can be taken, focused around improvements in energy efficiency, to help small businesses become more resilient in the face of this unprecedented crisis.”
“Small and medium sized companies represent 99% of all businesses in the EU. They employ over 80 million people, account for more than half of Europe’s GDP and play a key role in every sector of the economy. If they are not thriving, neither is the European economy – nor European people,” said Commissioner Simson. “Since October last year, the Commission has brought forward a number of initiatives to support those who struggle to pay their energy bills. One of the most effective ways to support SMEs in mitigating energy costs and supply risks is by helping them to reduce energy consumption, both in the short and longer term. If we all join forces – national, regional and local governments, financial institutions, employee and employer organisations, and energy agencies, we can support SMEs in these difficult times.”
Recognising the importance of energy efficiency for small businesses, the advice presented today by the IEA sets out actions that have been proven to save energy, including greater use of smart meters and controls, getting workforces more involved in identifying efficiency opportunities, better maintenance of equipment, and upgrading to more efficient motors, compressors, heating and lighting.
At today’s event, after the IEA’s Head of Energy Efficiency Brian Motherway presented the energy challenges facing SMEs, Dr Birol and Commissioner Simson gave keynote addresses. This was followed by a panel discussion involving Leonore Gewessler, Austria’s Minister of Climate Action, Environment, Energy, Mobility, Innovation and Technology; Véronique Willems, Secretary General of SMEunited, the association of crafts and SMEs in Europe; Plamen Dimitrov, President of Bulgaria’s Confederation of Independent Trade Unions; and Seamus Hoyne, Secretary General of FEDARENE, a network of regional and local agencies across Europe that implement energy policies.
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To help smaller businesses overcome today's perilous challenges and to sustain European economies, the European Commission and the International Energy Agency have teamed up to raise the awareness of governments, businesses and related stakeholders about the available options to empower and protect SMEs. These include EU support measures currently available to SMEs that can be tailored to meet their specific needs. They also include steps that businesses can take themselves to use energy more efficiently and wisely, making them more resilient and secure – both in the short and in the long term.Explore report