POLITICS & INSTITUTIONS - POLITICS

Environmental spatial planning

Citizen’s committee presents recommendations for carbon neutral



The citizen’s committee was selected according to diversity criteria to be more democratic. Luxembourg in Transition

The citizen’s committee was selected according to diversity criteria to be more democratic. Luxembourg in Transition

The Luxembourg in Transition’s initiative launched in June 2020 is bearing its fruits. Part of a 2-year long consultation, the thirty citizens selected for the project put together a dossier of 44 recommendations for the government to follow to reach carbon neutrality by 2050.

After 12 online conferences on the different themes to consider in their project--such as climate, biodiversity, urbanism, economy or cross-border cooperation--the team worked with architects and urbanists on the challenges on the future. A year later, on 20 January, they submitted a document to the energy and spatial planning minister Claude Turmes (déi Gréng), who had been at the origin of the project.

Selected from 250 candidates, the participants had been chosen according to criteria by TNS Ilres, in an effort to represent a true democracy. As such, 16 women and 14 men of various ages, of which 25 were residents of the grand duchy, and 5 lived on the borders, met up virtually.

Urgency, cooperation, prevention

The recommendations for Luxembourg’s future spatial planning focus on efficiency and communication. “The time for pilot projects and Sunday talks is over,” reads the first proposition. Political actors should all understand the urgency of climate change, it continues.

8 categories of priorities of actions are established:

 

-       Governance: cooperation not only between the government and communes, or the people, but also with neighbouring countries is essential, while expert advisors on relevant topics should receive the funds necessary. The climate citizens’ committee prime minister Xavier Bettel (DP) wants to introduce should not be an “alibi”.

-       Spatial planning and development: While villages that do not want to grow should be supported in their decisions, development centres should be built on adequately. Using the Cloche d’Or area as an example of a failed project, the group suggests creating neighbourhoods with mixed uses and communities again.

-       Resource-sparing mobility: In addition to more infrastructures for car-sharing or cycling inside and outside of agglomerations, remote working and co-working spaces should be promoted both by the employer and the commune. Bigger cars that create more pollution should also be taxed more severly. Mobility minister François Bausch (déi Gréng) may have already answered that condition with increasing CO2-taxes imposed on cars.

-       Protection of grounds: Natural fields and areas that do not need to be covered should be left alone, and more green areas should be implemented in tightly built neighbourhoods. Activists in Luxembourg last year had sued the state on grounds of damaging the environment

-       Architecture: On top of sustainable and reusable building materials, future construction projects should also include green spaces on available surfaces and water collection structures. Renovating old buildings should be prioritised too.

-       Sustainable agriculture, the protection of water sources and biodiversity: Protecting water sources should always be a priority, says the committee, adding that protected natural spaces should be expanded more. In terms of agriculture, more should be done to depart from the heavily polluting meat and dairy production, while also reviewing the agricultural strategy. Luxembourg’s agricultural ministry had last year already received such criticism from eco-activists.

-       Growth and economy: “The current resource-intensive growth of Luxembourg’s economy has to be slowed down in the context of climate change,” says the pamphlet. Regional circuits should be privileged and made as sustainable as possible. In addition, “fuel tourism” should be stopped by 2030, and investments in fossil fuels should be retracted.

-       Information and transparency: More should be done to help citizens understand the urgency of the climate crisis, the team argues, adding that a better monitoring of climate-positive measures by the government should be made. Food waste and healthy diets should be worked on too.

What’s next?

“This work can serve as an inspiration for the work of the new Master Plan for Spatial Planning (PDAT) and will henceforth constitute a methodological reference for the initiative launched by the Prime Minister with the introduction of the Klima Biergerrot (KBR),” the ministry of spatial planning explained in an official statement.

This year, a citizen’s climate committee consisting of 100 members should be formed, followed by conferences all over the country to address the climate crisis and measures the Luxembourg government has to take.

As the citizen’s committee concludes in its dossier: “the major societal, political and economic challenges that all countries have to address in the wake of the climate crisis can only be met through the active and continuous involvement of citizens.”