Claude Turmes (Minister for Energy, Minister of Spatial Planning): transition without concessions
For Claude Turmes, Minister of Spatial Planning, the economy of tomorrow must be ecological and responsible in the broadest terms. His vision is to bring the financial sector, manufacturers and promoters together to work in this direction. The goal is to initiate social and environmental change based on alternative lifestyles.
What challenges and opportunities do you see for Luxembourg in terms of energy?
The economy of tomorrow will have to be ecological and broadly responsible. Because ecosystems are the way they are, and we have to live with these limits. Also, finance will have to accept that negotiating with nature is impossible. These are two major challenges – at the global level and in Luxembourg – because the financial centre is based on a very globalised economy. We have the skills and the political will to be among the leaders in certain market segments. In real estate, our strict standards in residential property make us the best in Europe. In office construction, our standards stimulate innovation and excellence. Our construction professionals are very competitive internationally, and play in the first division with Paris and Frankfurt. With the EIB, and thanks to its expertise in structuring green funds, the Grand Duchy was able to develop dedicated financial instruments, mixing public and private capital. This included projects such as a solar energy fund for Africa, which will help to eradicate energy poverty on that continent. What better way to advertise the country and the financial centre? In the field of energy, a mechanism requires electricity and gas retailers to commit 1.5% of their sales. For electricity, a measure grants lower average prices to manufacturers in exchange for increased efficiency. Here too, there is exportable know-how in the optimisation of industrial processes.
“Luxembourg in Transition aims to give impetus and new development programmes that build towards the achievement of zero carbon, our second major project. ”
Can you describe the main lines of your regional planning policy?
The Minister of Regional Planning has the task of ensuring a good quality of life for citizens, and finding a balance between the respect for nature, on the one hand, and urban, territorial and economic development on the other. As our land is the most threatened resource, we must be world champions in multi-use and best-use. One of our top priorities is therefore to densify and make better of residential and business areas in a varied urban structure. For example, Belval has a mix of shops, housing and offices.
Can you tell us more about Luxembourg in Transition, an initiative that imagines a carbon-free country by 2050?
Unique in Europe, the project brings together urban planners, architects and sociologists to identify the best way to structure land-use in Luxembourg, and this in the context of the Greater Region. It also aims to give impetus and new development programmes that build towards the achievement of zero carbon, our second major project. Solar and wind technologies, electric mobility, intelligent industrial processes, and so on cannot achieve this objective alone. Our daily habits must also change. The layout of the country must therefore be a pro-active driver and facilitator, with, in particular, the construction of car-free neighbourhoods featuring car-sharing infrastructure, railway and tram links, express bus services, bicycle hire, etc. Our only chance of succeeding in this social change is through the creation of environments based on other ways of living.