Interview with Annabelle Jaeger-Seydoux, Director of the Mission for Energy Transition
Having been appointed to replace Jean-Luc Nguyen in September, Annabelle Jaeger-Seydoux heads up the government body responsible for mobilising Monegasque stakeholders to engage with the country’s energy transition, supporting projects to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, promoting local renewable energy production and decarbonising imported energy. What experience has she had? What are her plans and objectives? What has been her first priority? We spoke to her to find out.
What are your plans for the Principality’s energy transition, and more specifically for the action that the Mission for Energy Transition will take?
The energy transition is about making deep and structural changes to the ways in which we produce and consume energy. The Principality has enormous capacity to support this transition and to meet the target of achieving carbon neutrality by 2050: a Climate and Energy Plan to set the direction, a Mission for Energy Transition to accelerate the momentum, a National Green Fund to finance projects, with financial assistance available for energy efficiency and developing renewable energy.
The transition is based on the political will of the Prince’s Government as well as the determination of individuals and companies. As a conduit for public initiatives, the Mission must support individuals and companies, from providing information to offering solutions that will allow them to take action.
The transition involves finding alternatives to fossil fuels, with the development of renewable energy sources and, at the same time, managing consumption. These are the Mission’s two key functions.
I feel like we are now “in the right place at the right time” as people are aware of the issues and our mind-set is mature enough to make the transition. The Mission must play the role of facilitator and accelerator. In order to do this, it must begin by increasing the visibility of the many public and private initiatives and highlighting the many stakeholders who are already doing something.
After the Sovereign Prince and the Government, the National Council, the Economic and Social Council, Princess Grace Hospital, all of the hoteliers in the Principality and Monaco City Hall signed the National Energy Transition Pact on 8 September. Does the number of signatories – and their respective capacities for mobilisation – mean that it is now possible to take real action to support the energy transition?
Collective mobilisation is critical to the success of the energy transition. It was with this in mind that the White Paper was produced in 2017, with contributions from everyone, to both set out the issue and consider solutions. The National Pact is the engagement component of this work: it is a tool for progress, allowing everyone – residents, workers, businesses, institutions and associations – to make a specific contribution to the energy transition effort. It comprises a simple and easy-to-understand Commitment Charter and lays out the three key priorities for the energy transition: transport, waste and energy. It is broken down into annual action plans indicating what, specifically, each person or organisation who has signed up will do to contribute to the energy transition effort, highlighting the greenhouse gas emissions thus prevented.
There are around 500 signatories so far. We need to go further and ensure that each signatory becomes an ambassador for the initiative.
In 2019, signatories will be offered support to help monitor their actions. This will allow us to draw up an annual progress report and to go further with proposed actions and indicators.
It is now possible to sign up to the National Energy Transition Pact online. What expectations do you have for this new facility?
The ability to sign up online is consistent with the messages promoted by the Pact itself, specifically the aim of saving paper. The goal is also to make access much easier, and that’s why we are working with some of our most motivated partners in the Principality to develop Pact access points. In addition to engagement, the National Pact is also an educational tool and an invitation to question our individual and collective behaviours.
The new energy regulations for buildings in the Principality were presented to the press on 9 October. To what extent did the Mission collaborate with the Department of Forward Studies, Urban Planning and Mobility (DPUM) on this issue?
In order to significantly improve energy efficiency in old and new buildings, and to meet our greenhouse gas reduction targets, it was necessary to amend thermal regulations. This has now effectively been done.
The new law sets a maximum level of energy consumption for new buildings and a minimum rate for the use of renewable energy. The new measures also include:
- banning the use of fuel oil in old buildings from 2022
- mandatory energy audits for buildings constructed between 1930 and 1990 from 2022
- an obligation to carry out thermal insulation work during some types of building renovation project
This work was led by the DPUM, with several teams from the Ministry of Public Works, the Environment and Urban Development, including the Mission, as well as Monaco City Hall. We will continue to work with the DPUM to present and explain these new regulations to those in the construction industry as much as is necessary.
On 23 October, the Mission launched the Bâtiments Durables Méditerranéens de Monaco initiative with 160 construction industry operators in the Principality. We are beginning to detect a certain amount of commitment to the energy transition on the part of civil society. What were the major stages of this event? To what extent does that day confirm this impression?
To support the ambitious trajectory towards carbon neutrality in the Principality, the environmental and energy performance of buildings is a priority, since they account for more than 30% of emissions. With this in mind, the Mission gathered together all those involved in the building industry and urban development at Monaco’s Vocational and Catering School to discuss the key challenges of sustainable construction. Attended by more than 160 participants, the event produced lively and constructive debate.
The aim was to present to attendees the Bâtiments Durables Méditerranéens (BDM, Sustainable Mediterranean Buildings) initiative launched in the PACA region in 2009. This voluntary and innovative initiative aims to promote best practices in building (reducing the impact of materials and water/energy consumption, bioclimatic design, etc.) to ensure a healthy and comfortable space, while also taking account of environmental, social and economic challenges.
By the end of 2019, the initiative will be adapted, with the help of stakeholders, to the context and specific features found in Monaco, becoming known as BD2M: “Bâtiments Durables Méditerranéens de Monaco”. Six days of work spread out over several months will follow up this first meeting to create the BD2M framework.
I hope that we will end up with an initiative that is entirely consistent with the Mediterranean climate and which meets the expectations of users, because it has been defined by and for them.
Can you tell us about your career so far?
After studying political science and serving in roles in both the public and private sectors – at the French National Assembly and for a start-up – I started working on environmental issues in 2003 when I joined the Fondation Nicolas Hulot. There, I managed major campaigns to mobilise stakeholders, including Défi pour la terre (Earth Challenge) and the Pacte écologique (Environmental Pact). I was then elected as the Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur representative for biodiversity and President of the Regional Environment Agency, which supports local areas with their sustainable development policies. In December 2015, I was appointed “Qualified Individual in Environmental Issues” by the French Economic, Social and Environmental Council, and I stepped down from this post a few weeks ago to take the helm at the Mission for Energy Transition. I’m also still involved with environmental charities and am honoured to chair the French branch of the Prince Albert II Foundation.
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