Climate change also affects Luxembourg. More frequent droughts, torrential rains and flooding are just some of the changes expected in the near future. Climate action measures can address these changes. By reducing the environmental impact of human actions, climate change can be slowed if not halted.

To monitor progress in climate action, Luxembourg, along with all other Member States of the European Union, has set out ambitious climate action targets in its National Energy and Climate Plan 2021-2030. To help reach the targets, the Luxembourg Ministry of the Environment, Climate and Sustainable Development together with the national agency myenergy has developed a unique tool that supports climate action in municipalities across the country.

Rationale for action

The Luxembourg National Energy and Climate Plan 2021-2030 defines targets to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 55%, to increase energy efficiency by 40-44% and to increase the share of renewable energy by 25%.

Objective

To help to accelerate the transition, effective instruments are needed to increase renewable energy production and energy efficiency.

At the same time, many climate and energy related decisions are made at a municipal level. So, climate action cannot be implemented without the consent and support of the country’s municipalities. An instrument was needed that would help to identify, structure, fund and communicate measures for climate action convincing municipalities to be primary players in climate action and rewarding their efforts. Thus, the idea for Klimapakt was born.

Time frame

The first edition of Klimapakt supported municipalities between 2012 and 2020. In 2021 a second edition of the instrument is being launched to continue to support municipalities with more ambitious measures until 2030.

Key players

Municipalities are the main target and the main players for implementing climate action measures. The idea for Klimapakt was developed by the Luxembourg Ministry of the Environment, Climate and Sustainable Development and the Luxembourg agency myenergy and is based on the european energy award (eea).

Implementation steps and processes

Klimapakt is implemented through an agreement between the Ministry of the Environment, Climate and Sustainable Development, myenergy and individual municipalities. The agreement equips municipalities with financial and human resources to implement climate action measures. It also requires municipalities to implement measures to benefit from funding provided by the state. This way, municipalities can choose the projects that best fit the local context and the state maintains control over spending and results.

After signing the contract, a climate team is put in place, with local elected officials, collaborators of the municipality (the climate team), local enterprises and citizens as well as an external climate advisor (provided from myenergy) or an internal climate advisor (employee from the municipality). The initial assessment of the municipality and its energy consumption is established by the climate advisor and the climate team. Based on a pre-defined catalogue of measures, municipalities then select individual measures, contribute to increased energy efficiency or reduced energy consumption. These measures are grouped in a work programme.

Depending on the size of the municipality, a climate advisor is available for a number of workdays every year (up to 75 days). In addition to the main climate advisor, municipalities can also book specialized advisors in the fields of circular economy and building renovation.

Klimapakt has 64 measures categorized in six categories, ranging from spatial planning, construction, municipal infrastructure and services, resource management, mobility, internal organisation to communication and cooperation.

Klimapakt measures are based on the framework catalogue of the european energy award and are adapted to the Luxembourg context. This ensures that actions contribute to the European reference framework for local climate actions.

Every measure has a specific number of points, enabling monitoring of progress towards programme objectives. By implementing the measures, municipalities benefit from financial support from the state.

Labels for certifying municipalities at 40%, 50%, 65% and 75% progress. Source: myenergy.lu

Municipal Klimapakt programmes are monitored every three years and can be certified at 40%, 50%, 65% and 75% progress. At the same time, Luxembourg municipalities are certified with the european energy award system, giving greater international visibility.

Complementing the general framework catalogue from the European energy award, municipalities can also work towards thematic certifications in the fields of circular economy, climate change adaptation and air quality.

Required resources

To implement the measures, municipalities benefit – in addition to the climate advisor – from an annual payment of EUR 10 to 45 per capita based on the number of residents and level of certification.

Results

The success of the initiative speaks for itself. In 2020, each of the 102 municipalities in Luxembourg was engaged in the Klimapakt and 96% of them were certified.

78 of these municipalities were certified at above 50% in 2020, having implemented more than half of the measures of the contract between the state and the municipalities. 13 municipalities even reached the 75% certification level.

By following the european energy award certification, municipalities can also get European level awards at the 75% level. In 2020, thirteen Luxembourg municipalities were awarded the eea ‘Gold’ status for their climate action.

Experiences, success factors, risks

Using a label to certify municipality action has helped to market the Klimapakt approach to the target group. Municipalities are using the label to make their measures visible to residents and to benchmark their efforts against other municipalities. This makes the instrument an important lever to support climate action in the country.

Conclusions

The Klimapakt is not just a technocratic instrument to increase municipal climate action. It has also become a brand in Luxembourg, showing municipality efforts on climate action.

The first Klimapakt, showed the instrument can be an umbrella for climate action. New measures and standards in the upcoming edition will encourage stronger result-orientation and cooperation with citizens through public participation.

Contact

Mr Bruno Barboni, project officer for Klimapakt: bruno.barboni@myenergy.lu

References

Barboni, B. & Faber, F., 2020: Presentation of Klimapakt 1.0 and 2.0 (in Luxembourgish): https://www.pacteclimat.lu/sites/default/files/media-docs/2021-03/myenergy-presentatioun_0.pdf

KlimaPakt, 2021: Measures catalogue (in German and French): https://www.pacteclimat.lu/de/engagierter-akteur/umsetzungshilfe

KlimaPakt, 2021: Library of relevant documents (in German and French): https://www.pacteclimat.lu/de/engagierter-akteur/mediathek

Cities are hot spots of ecological disruption due to excessive consumption of natural resources and high pollution by inhabitants. At the same time, cities are also creative spaces where existing models and rules are challenged, and alternatives are developed and tested.

‘Eco-districts’ and ‘eco-villages’ are new approaches and concepts that are being tested in urban areas. With principles such as ‘zero-waste’ and the circular economy becoming increasingly popular, these initiatives currently experience a renaissance with great interest of the public, decision-makers and urban planners.

Rationale for action

Circular economy has become a trend topic in Luxemburg during recent years. Decision-makers, urban planners and building research investigate new techniques and materials to render urban construction following the ‘zero-waste’ principle and the principle of circular economy.

At the same time, the demand for products that are produced in an ecologically and socially viable way increases. Alternatives to our established consumption model become more mainstream and promote alternatives to the linear economy of today. Many grassroot initiatives benefit from this recent trend towards a more circular approach in construction and an increasing demand for alternative products. BENU village has committed itself to this idea and in doing so has become the first eco-village of the Greater Region.

Outside view on BENU village. Source: https://www.greenpeace.org/luxembourg/fr/actualites/4321/benu-village-esch-un-ecovillage-au-luxembourg/

Objective

BENU village, (neologism for “Be New”) is the name of a grassroot movement in Esch-sur-Alzette. Its objective is to showcase that alternative models to the mainstream way of building and consuming are possible, and so in Luxembourg.

In this regard, the construction of the first eco-village of the Greater Region follows circular economy principles and also the economic activities are committed towards recycling, reusing and upcycling.

Time frame

The idea to create the BENU village first came up in 2015. A private person had the idea, which soon came to realisation. In 2017, the construction of BENU village started and the first building was finalised at the end of 2019.  

View of the entrance of BENU village. Source: https://www.moien.lu/benu-village-franz-fayot/

Key players

To formalise the idea and to increase its visibility towards the public, the city and the state, an association was founded to endorse the implementation of the eco-village: “BENU Village Esch ASBL”. The association is financially supported by the municipality and the state.

During the realisation, other state players became interested in the project. Businesses and state services use the premises of BENU village. For example, the national integration service for young adults organises learning programmes in BENU village.

Implementation steps and processes

All building materials used for the construction of BENU village derived from either re-use or recycling. Since the start of the construction in 2017, many volunteers have supported the building of the first house, which was finalised at the end of 2019. In addition to the volunteers, the project was supported by local craftsmen and other businesses that provided knowledge and materials.

In the building process of the village, considerable attention was devoted to the use of recycled materials. During the construction, only the screws were purchased new, the remaining materials, for example the windows, the wood used for framing, the insulation and the exterior shell of the houses, were entirely recycled from waste.

Soon after the first building was realised, shops moved in. The founder and initiator of BENU village opened “BENU Couture”, a tailor shop that produces clothing from used materials and second-hand articles. The premises continue to grow and were opened for other interested professionals.

A Charta, the so-called “BENU Charta” formulates shared values that ought to be respected by all businesses and professionals working in the eco-village, was developed. The Charta puts an emphasis on the ‘zero-waste’ principle, the recycling and upcycling of materials and commits future economic activities in the eco-village to act in an environmentally and socially responsible and transparent way.

Inside view of the shopping area of BENU village. Source: https://www.moien.lu/benu-village-franz-fayot/

Required resources

BENU village benefits from seed funding of the Ministry of Energy and Spatial Planning and the City of Esch-sur-Alzette, where the initiative is located. Apart from the financial support, the project was realised with the support of volunteers, that helped in the building and organisation of BENU village. As the building materials were mostly recycled, no material costs arised from the implementation of the project.

Results

The numbers speak for the success of the eco-villager: in 2019, a turnover of EUR 210,000 was generated, with 18 persons working for BENU village. About EUR 80,000 were generated from upcycled clothing and accessories. And BENU village will soon grow further. In 2021, when more surfaces of BENU village will become available, they will be rented to professionals pursuing similar ideas. Interested businesses, that act in line with the BENU Charta, can then rent these spaces. This way, BENU village will develop into a coworking space of likeminded professionals and businesses.

BENU village shows that there are different interpretations of the often referred-to ‘circular economy’. In addition to the mainstream definition, applied mostly at regional and national level, the definition of BENU village is different. BENU village shows an alternative reading to circular economy that functions at small scale and yields more than just a decrease in material consumption.

Outside view of the container structure of BENU village. Source: https://www.moien.lu/benu-village-franz-fayot/

Experiences, success factors, risks

As with many grassroot movements, the private commitment to the underlaying idea is important for the success of a project. The idea for BENU village was initiated and implemented by a private person. The continued lobbying and defence of the idea has successfully yielded the interest of elected officially, such as several national ministers and even the Grand Duke of Luxembourg.

In 2021, the project was awarded with the European Climate Star from the Climate Alliance in the category ‘Saving resources’. A short video is available here.

Conclusions

BENU village shows an alternative to our current living and working in an affluent society. Ideas such as ‘zero waste’ can also be successfully implemented with relatively little resources at district level. However, for doing so one needs pioneers and “BENU is a pioneer”, as described by the national Minister for Energy and Spatial Planning, Turmes.

The idea behind BENU is versatile and can be applied for more than just material production. During 2021, a restaurant, following the BENU Charta will open at the premises of BENU village.

Contact

General E-Mail address of BENU village Esch asbl: benu@benuvillageesch.lu

References

BENU, 2020: Website of BENU village Esch (in English): http://benu.lu/en/

Taylor Aiken, Schulz & Schmid, 2020: The community economies of Esch-sur-Alzette: rereading the economy of Luxembourg (scientific article in English): https://orbilu.uni.lu/handle/10993/42602