Luxembourg, a small European country with a population equivalent to that of Tucson, Arizona, has recognized that the dawn of a “third industrial revolution” will be driven by technological innovation and renewable energy. All eyes are on Luxembourg as it seeks to become the first state to accelerate all of its sectors towards sustainability. It is the first nation to receive funds from the European Investment Bank to embark on such a wide-ranging transformation.

Jeremy Rifkin, an American economist, unveiled a roadmap for Luxembourg’s future at the Luxembourg Sustainability Forum earlier in November. The strategy is based on the ideas described in his book, The Third Industrial Revolution.

Rifkin believes that unless economies begin to embrace new technologies, global economic growth will slow to a crawl as productivity dips. New energy sources, transportation methods, and communication platforms will be key to refreshing and energizing economies.

In particular, the forum invigorated interest in smart energy grids powered by distributed generation in individual homes and communities rather than centrally located power plants. Rifkin coined the term “energy internet” to describe the system of distributed energy that will enable local power-generating homes to buy and sell energy via smart grids. He believes this will help make it possible to zero out carbon emissions from heating and transportation.

As one of the richest countries in the world per capita, Luxembourg has the resources necessary to drive towards sustainability. But other, much poorer nations are following suit. The 47 members of the Climate Vulnerable Forum, a coalition bringing together many of the nations most at risk from extreme weather and rising sea levels (including Bangladesh, Costa Rica, and Ethiopia) have pledged to fully transition to renewable energy as soon as possible. The forum says its members will “strive to meet 100% domestic renewable energy production as rapidly as possible, while working to end energy poverty and protect water and food security."


Author: Dylan Ruan