Energy poverty and keeping cool in a changing climate
(ONLINE POLICY DIALOGUE)
The main topic of the annual, online conference of the EU Energy Poverty Observatory was the challenges on indoor cooling in the scope of energy poverty. The focus of the discussion was more on the southern part of Europe where energy poverty is connected with rather summer months and extreme heatwaves and resulting inability of people to keep their homes cooled. However, discussed were relevant topics also for Central and Eastern part of Europe for which winter energy poverty is more characteristic.
The introductory part was led by Stefan Bouzarovski who spoke about the successes of the EU Energy Poverty Observatory since its beginnings and talked about the two main ways to tackle energy sustainability of buildings:
- competitive energy prices
- energy efficiency that lowers energy costs
He highlighted that there are many ways to address the issue of energy poor households, starting with division of summer and winter energy poverty.
What remains among the main challenges in the fight against the energy poverty is
- moving the energy poverty debate outside the established domains of heating services and well-known regions
- creating a unified and robust indicator framework for energy poverty
- greater engagement of social, housing infrastructures and health policy-makers and practitioners
- supporting EU low-carbon transition at multiple scales of governance (EU, regional, national and local level)
- more effective sharing of best practice
For the panel discussion, three experts were invited to talk about different challenges connected with energy poverty and cooling.
Pau Garcia Audi, Policy Officer at European Commission, EPBD, talked about tackling energy poverty from the EU perspective. Energy poverty is not a single-region problem but a wide-spread issue that is shaped by numerous factors, being it societal, economic, regional or historical. It is a fact that building stock in the EU is not energy efficient and that needs to be changed.
Energy poverty should be addressed both in national plans focusing on whole systems of energy efficiency, and in long-term renovation strategies focusing on decarbonization.
Vincent Viguie, Researcher on economics and climate change at CIRED Paris, talked about “summer” energy poverty, its impact, possible solutions and risks within the country-specific scope. Exposure of warmth and more frequent heatwaves stand behind heat stress, lowering air quality, CO2 emissions because of more AC used, worsened economic activity, transportation system failures, tourism and also problems in agriculture.
Federico Beffa, Program Officer at Fondazione Cariplo Italy, looked at the issue from local perspective. According to him, one of the possible ways to alleviate energy poverty is to support local network and to include municipalities and non-for-profit organizations in a dialogue when developing the transition climate plans.
The conference was closed by Ciaran Cuffe, MEP (Group of the Greens/European Free Alliance). In his speech, he emphasized that it is necessary to tackle low incomes, renovation of building stock and to work on effective energy efficiency legislation and fair energy taxation across the EU. For the Renovation Wave to be successful, meaningful dialogue between the EU on one side and the regions, national and local level communities on the other, must be made more effective and constructive.
Find more information about the conference here.