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Environmental Crime Legal Framework In Luxembourg

Article 11 of Luxembourg’s constitution reads: “the State guarantees the protection of the human and cultural environment, and works for the establishment of a durable equilibrium between the conservation of nature, in particular its capacity for renewal, and the satisfaction of the needs of present and future generations.”

Luxembourg held a national dialogue on its Environmental Implementation Review in October 2017, highlighting air and water quality, biodiversity and environmental governance issues. A bilateral discussion between the Luxembourg authorities and Commission representatives took place in Luxembourg in June 2018 with the aim of providing an update on implementation issues and enforcement.

Featured Legislation

1999: The Law instituting the fund for the protection of the environment was passed. The law establishes the Fund for the Protection of the Environment. The Fund is in charge of the protection and water sanitation, the prevention and fight against atmospheric pollution, noise and climate change, the prevention and management of waste, the protection of nature and natural resources, and the sanitation and rehabilitation of waste and contaminated sites. Article 4 (c) and (h) stipulates that a State subsidy up to 50 per cent of the investment cost of infrastructure works and associated spending can be granted to environmental protection projects. The project’s instigators must be municipalities, community of communes, public establishments or establishments of public utility.

2012: The Law on carbon dioxide geological storage and environmental responsibility was signed, establishing a legal framework for the environmentally safe geological storage and permanent confinement of carbon dioxide. The objective of CO2 geological storage must ensure and prevent as much as possible any harmful effect on the local environment and human health. The selection of appropriate storing sites must be determined by exploration activities subject to governmental authorisation from the Ministries of the Environment and of the Interior. Storage licenses must also be granted by the government.

2012: The Climate Pact with the Municipalities was established. The Pact consists of a 2012 law, amended on March 29th, 2016, that aims at encouraging greenhouse gases emissions mitigation at the municipality level. The law authorises the State to subsidy, from 2013 to 2020: The municipalities committed via the signature of a Climate Pact to apply a mitigation programme. Such a programme must comprise a quality assessment ending up in a «European Energy Award®» certificate and quantified measures. Several types of subsidies are elaborated to encourage municipalities to adopt and seriously commit to the Pact. These subsidies are modified in the 2016 amendment.

2015: The Law on the electricity market was tabled. The law amends a number of articles of the law of August 1st, 2007, on the electricity market. The law seeks to increase the share of renewable resources in the national electricity production as well as energy efficiency on the consumer side. The law normalises and simplifies procedures to facilitate the connection to the grid of decentralised energy producers using cogeneration, and to provide the necessary information for the connection of any new energy producer using renewables or cogeneration. The grid manager must also guarantee the transport and distribution of renewably sourced energy and grid access, provided that the grid reliability is maintained. The law also states that the public service’s duty with regard to electricity supply includes environmental protection, and thus energy efficiency, renewably sourced energy and climate protection, while ensuring to all European Union suppliers equal access to national consumers.

2015: The Law on the natural gas market was adopted, amending a number of articles of the law of August 1st, 2007: In the natural gas market. The law seeks to improve the environmental footprint of the natural gas market as well as energy efficiency on the supply and distribution side. The law obliges natural gas suppliers to purchase the production of biogas, gas produced by biomass or other types of gas based on renewable resources, to inject it in their networks. The law also sets targets of energy savings for suppliers.

2016: The Law supporting sustainable development in rural areas was implemented, establishing a legal framework designed to support Luxembourg’s agricultural sector over the long term, by ensuring its competitiveness, sustainability, polyvalence and innovation “in harmony with an integrated development of rural areas". It includes the climate constraint in a number of ways. Article 21 mentions that the compensation of damages caused by natural calamities can be granted to exploitations in conformity with EU regulation 702/2014. Article 39 (1) stipulates that a subsidy scheme is created to reinforce economic and environmental performances of exploitations, in order to reduce their climate footprint and increase their resilience, in conformity with EU regulation 702/2014 as well.

2017: Luxembourg launched the TAIEX-EIR peer-to- peer (EIR P2P) tool to facilitate peer-to-peer learning among environmental authorities. Luxembourg has so far participated in one P2P event, attending a multi-country workshop in Budapest on ammonia emissions from agriculture.

2017: A clean air dialogue with the European Commission took place in Luxembourg. The conclusion was that the top priorities were to: (1) implement short-term measures to reduce emissions from existing vehicles and (2) monitor the risk of increased particulate matter emissions from greater use of biomass to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Featured Case Studies: Transnational Environmental Crime, Human Security, and Biosecurity

Earth Overshoot Day, an environmental platform, has revealed that Luxembourg has the second-largest ecological footprint in the world. Environment Minister Carole Dieschbourg has declared that the government will be taking measures to criminalize the deliberate or negligent destruction of nature, also known as ecocide. As of 2021: Luxembourg has started to increase fines and prison sentence thresholds related to environmental offences. While ecocide is not recognised in its laws, two ministers said a clear definition of ecocide would be agreed upon first and that they will closely examine actions of its neighbours and the EU as a whole. For example, In November 2020: Belgium explored policy measures to address ecocide and  two motions were recently submitted to the Swedish parliament and at the end of 2020. Spain has also adopted a resolution to study the possibility of criminalising ecocide. On 20 January 2021, the European Parliament made amendments to its report on Human Rights and Democracy in the World, calling for “the EU and the member states to promote the recognition of ecocide as an international crime under the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court.”  While it is still too early to judge the advisability of introducing such an offence into Luxembourg legislation, Dieschbourg said the government will be following developments in this area in neighbouring countries.

References and Further Reading


Ministère de l’Environnement, du Climat et du Développement durable, Carole Dieschbourg: