Ensuring access to affordable, reliable, sustainable, and modern energy for all.
In the 21st century, 760 million people still have no access to energy. Get to know some of the strategies that can be adopted in the battle against energy poverty, which must be fought by everyone.
In 2021, former UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon described energy as “the golden thread that connects economic growth, social equity and environmental sustainability”.
Currently, according to the United Nations, 760 million people still have no access to electricity, and 2.6 billion people cook with inadequate and health-threatening energy sources.
The expected results have not been achieved with regards to Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 7, which consists of “ensuring access to affordable, reliable, sustainable, and modern energy for all.”
The goal of leaving no one behind and eradicating global poverty must be preceded by objective efforts to end energy poverty.
What is energy poverty
The poorest people experience the most difficulty in accessing electricity. By remaining “disconnected” they also continue to experience more difficulty in fighting poverty.
We talk about energy poverty when there is no access to energy or when, if there is, the energy bill represents an unaffordable burden for consumers, leading them, in many situations, to reduce or give up energy consumption, resulting in a negative impact on their health, comfort and well-being.
Due to its essentially private nature - as it mainly affects households -, and its complexity, energy poverty remains a major challenge. According to Eurostat figures, around 35 million EU citizens (approximately 8% of the EU population) will be unable to keep their homes adequately heated in 2020. Rising energy prices, which began in 2021 and worsened with Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, along with the impact of the COVID-19 crisis, have exacerbated an already difficult situation for many citizens.
The access to adequate and affordable sources is not equally distributed on the planet. Lack of energy, or insufficient supply, means that it’s impossible to develop agriculture and industry, thus keeping the poorest countries trapped in a vicious circle.
Fighting energy poverty
As a response to the problems of energy safety and poverty, representatives from cities around the world met in May 2022 to consider measures to support the most vulnerable households. A number of proposals for action emerged from that meeting:
- Direct financial support for low-income households.
- Reduced rents for social housing.
- Reduction of local taxes.
- In cities with municipal utilities, prohibition of supply cuts in situations of non-payment.
- Modernization of public buildings and social housing and transition to renewable energy sources.
- Provision of guidance to populations at risk of energy poverty, on energy efficiency measures that can be implemented cheaply and easily.
- Implementation of awareness campaigns to reduce energy waste.
- Reducing the average indoor temperatures of buildings. In Europe, this measure could reduce total gas consumption by 10 billion cubic meters per degree of temperature.
- Accelerate the implementation of clean and affordable heating systems to phase out fossil fuels. The change could involve, for example, a ban on installing gas boilers in new homes.
- Providing short-term subsidies, covering 20% of the installation costs of renewable energy.
- Reducing oil consumption, using sustainable and affordable urban mobility solutions.
- Freezing or reducing public transport fares, especially for people on low incomes, and restoring public transport services to pre-pandemic levels.
- Invest in the creation of green jobs.
Key strategies to fight energy poverty
In this article, we present a summary of all the strategies noted over the years as essential in fighting energy poverty:
Financial Assistance Programs
Governments, non-profits, and businesses can offer direct financial assistance to help pay energy bills. These programs can include help to pay overdue bills, provide tax credits, or provide grants to purchase efficient equipment.
Improving Energy Efficiency
One of the most effective ways to fight energy poverty is to improve the energy efficiency of buildings. This can be done through improvements in construction and insulation, among others.
Energy Efficiency Education
It’s important that people understand how they can reduce their energy consumption and how to make more energy efficient choices. This can be done through awareness campaigns, workshops, and other educational activities.
Governments may establish regulations requiring residential and commercial buildings to meet certain energy efficiency standards. This may include requiring energy certification of buildings or setting minimum energy efficiency standards for equipment and appliances.
Renewable Energy Generation Programs
Investing in renewable energy sources can help reduce long-term energy costs and improve energy safety. These programs can also create new jobs and help promote the transition to a low-carbon economy.
Communities can work together to help reduce energy poverty. This may include creating renewable energy cooperatives, where members share energy production and costs, or forming energy purchasing groups to get lower prices on energy.