Good bye Brussels, hello Brussels!

Yes, I am leaving the European Parliament at the end of June. It is not a planned move. It is life. Sometimes in life you are struck by love, and you have to assume your choice. This time it is death that has struck. On 16th May, Camille Gira, 59, frontman of the Luxembourg ecology movement and state secretary for the Luxemburgish Greens, suffered a stroke and died while presenting his “pet” law on which he had worked for years, if not decades, in the Luxemburgish parliament: a modern nature protection law putting biodiversity above speculators and intensive farming. A green warrior dying on the battlefield!

During the 20 years as mayor of a beautiful village in Luxembourg, Beckerich, Camille transformed his community into a “green lab” with 100% renewables, near zero energy buildings, LED street lighting and a vivid local culture including great bars like “Schluppert”, through active, bottom-up citizens’ involvement. When Greens threw over the Luxemburgish Prime Minister Jean-Claude Juncker in 2013, “freeing” him for Brussels, Camille entered the government as state secretary for sustainable development. In government, he not only pushed forward a comprehensive review of the Luxembourgish nature protection law, he also completed the work on the Climate Alliance network. “Think global, act local” is a reality in Luxembourg today thanks to a strategic partnership between the government and the local authorities.

After his early death, I will replace him in government to continue his legacy.

A great time in Brussels!

It was Camille who mentored me into “Green party politics” and encouraged me to run for the Greens in Luxembourg in the 1999 European elections. That was the moment when, after my 15 years with Friends of the Earth Luxembourg and some years in the FoE Europe board, I got my entry ticket to the “holy grail”, the heartof European democracy, the European Parliament.

I had a great time in the EP during these past 19 years. Contributing to build the world’s most sophisticated electricity market with regulators, unbundled TSO’s, protected and now active consumers and a gas market in which solidarity prevails even if Putin tries to test it. Building an armada of efficiency policies from eco-design over labelling, near zero energy buildings (my amendment in 2011, yes!), CO2 and cars and EED with the tangible result that oil and gas consumption in the EU shrink and electricity consumption is stable! Greening energy supply by massive renewables triggered by the 2009 renewable energy directive with binding national targets (yes!). It is us Europeans who have succeeded – by creating a mandatory mass market, the ONE big hope in the race against dramatic climate change: damn cheap solar, wind onshore and wind offshore!

Three weeks to go!

I will be sworn into government by mid/end of June. Until then all my energy will be targeted at getting the EU energy efficiency and renewables directives ready for 2030.

And the irony of history is that the one politician who was most critical of the weak Barroso/Catherine Day energy union “governance” proposal has to transform it into a vigorous “energy and climate framework legislation” (yes we will get this done before I leave!).

The network that always won!

Maybe I have selective memory, but I do not remember a single key energy legislation since 1999 that we lost in ITRE, the industry committee of the EP! Why did we win? First, we have a strategic cross-party political alliance between Greens, progressive liberals, socialists and GUE and lately completed by the surprising 5 Stars movement. With these courageous individuals we faced an often climate-hostile EPP. Second, we can count on robust and vivid support from NGOs and think tanks. And some progressive governments, lately above all the Swedish, Portuguese, Luxembourgish and French governments (Germany, which championed energy transition over all the years is less dedicated is these days). And of course the numerous individuals in the EU Commission, who, sometimes with the backing of their hierarchy and sometimes without, help us to move the EU ambition on energy and climate upwards. My greatest gratitude goes to my staff and the staff of the Green group of the EP. Without you, I would not have been able to achieve all the push for energy transition in Europe.

Hope is a product of conscience!

For all of you with who were and are part of this “positive energy spider net”, keep up your hope and fighting spirit. During moments of doubt, I recommend you to read extracts of a certain book. No, not mine on energy transition (only for those who would be nostalgic), but the latest book by US philosopher Terry Patten, “A New Republic of the Heart”. One teaser:

“Only human beings can protect and defend the future of life on Earth from human beings.”

“If the measure of human life is its significance, its ability to have positive effects much larger than itself, then all of us alive now have hit the jackpot. We are the lucky ones who have been born “where the action is”, in a time when the potential to make a difference on an evolutionary scale. And we have unprecedented access to, and the ability to draw on, the highest accumulated knowledge and wisdom of all cultures across the ages.”

Have fun!

And by the way, I am not actually leaving EU policy making. As a Member of the Luxembourg government, I am now sitting on the other side of the table. So see you soon, on CO2 and cars, CO2 and trucks, dieselgate, maybe already in the ENVI Council of 25th June.

Claude Turmes

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