As part of his three-day working visit to Washington in the United States (US), Luxembourg's Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Mobility and Public Works and of Defence, François Bausch, met with US Secretary of Transportation, Pete Buttigieg, for a bilateral interview on Wednesday 15 March 2023.
The interview allowed both sides to discuss transport infrastructure investments while simultaneously fighting against climate change. Discussions focused on political priorities in favour of competitive transport and on mobility planning for the two countries, in particular considering current social, environmental and economic challenges. In order to be able to meet the demand for mobility of tomorrow, they felt it was essential to modernise and develop the infrastructure by improving the quality of services in the transport sector.
Minister Bausch and Secretary Buttigieg also discussed decarbonisation in the transport sector as well as incentive policy strategies to reduce carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions. They spoke about the different sources of energy to power lorries, cars and aeroplanes. Both agreed that sustainable aviation fuel will play a major role for the aviation sector, while electrification represents an interesting energy vector for light vehicles and certain heavy vehicles. In the context of the "Fit for 55" package under the European Green Deal, Minister Bausch relaunched the discussion about the rapid development of electromobility as well as its need for a dense charging infrastructure for electric vehicles. He explained that Luxembourg now meets the minimum criteria for the obligation laid down for EU Member States to set up charging stations at least every 60 km.
This trip to Washington also allowed Minister Bausch to participate in the Transforming Transportation 2023 (TTDC23) conference jointly organised by the World Bank and the World Resources Institute (WRI) under the theme "Accelerating Toward Green and Inclusive Mobility". Following the various social, economic and environmental factors that continue to disrupt the global transport sector, the TT23 conference considered the current economic scenario and the post-COVID recovery as starting points to re-imagine transport with the aim of making it more secure, inclusive, sustainable and efficient. In this context, Minister Bausch spoke at a roundtable called "Resilient Transport: Navigating Climate Change, Conflict and Disruptions", in order to relaunch discussions on the planning, design and implementation of infrastructure and resilient transport services while taking into consideration unstable circumstances, including conflict situations affected by climate change. "Around the world, the most sensible thing to do is to invest in resilient transport modes that promote active mobility and public transport. There cannot be a single solution to becoming more resilient, you have to consider the whole of transport planning," stressed Minister Bausch during the roundtable.
On the sidelines of this event, Minister Bausch had a bilateral meeting with Guangzhe Chen, Vice President for Infrastructure of the World Bank. Discussions focused in particular on development projects with the aim of providing safe, efficient and inclusive mobility everywhere and for everyone. Luxembourg has shown interest in cooperating for future investment projects in favour of sustainable transport.
Francois Bausch, in his capacity as Luxembourg’s Minister of Defence, also had an interview with Bonnie Jenkins, Under Secretary of State for Arms Control and International Security. They discussed cooperation in the fields of space and cyber, artificial intelligence and lethal autonomous weapons systems as well as aid for Ukraine. Bonnie Jenkins congratulated the Luxembourg authorities for their rapid reaction in the Spacety affair and for the consequent implementation of sanctions in relation to Russia (Spacety is a Luxembourg-based space company that was recently investigated over alleged Russian ties).
On the third and final day of this trip, on Thursday 16 March 2023, Minister Bausch participated in the Advancing the Active Mobility Fund conference organised by the WRI. The event brought together mobility practitioners and international financial experts to share their views on the challenges and opportunities associated with investing in active mobility.
The panel discussion, followed by an open discussion with the audience, was dominated by in-depth discussions about the strategies and policy interventions needed to attract more capital for active mobility. Minister Bausch commented: “We are talking about something that is cheap, accessible, inclusive, efficient, social, climate friendly and universal. Why has no one talked about financing active mobility at an international level? I think I know why. Financing active mobility is such a low hanging fruit that you cannot see it from the inside of a car.” He continued: “We have to push the policies to give clear messages to the market in order to finance cycling infrastructure.”
In the role of Defence Minister, François Bausch had an interview at the Pentagon with General David Thompson, Vice Chief of Space Operations for the United States Space Force. Discussions focused on cooperation in the space field, the bilateral partnership under the Medium Earth Orbit Global Services programme, the future earth observation satellite LUXEOSys and the Luxembourg Cyber Defence Cloud.