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Understanding the lived experiences of energy poverty in the Global North and South 
Paola Velasco Herrejon (University College Cork)
Niall Dunphy (University College Cork)
Breffní Lennon (University College Cork)
Energy transitions
Thursday 7 July, 11:00-11:40 (UTC+1)

Short Abstract:

The panel aims to extend our understanding of the lived experiences of energy poverty in the Global North and South by exploring the methods used to identify energy-poor households, characterising those most at risk, and discussing practices for supporting energy-vulnerable households across regions

Long Abstract

Energy poverty is a condition predicated on a combination of high energy prices, low household incomes, poorly performing or energy inefficient buildings and appliances, and other specific household energy needs. While income level is an important factor, not all those who suffer from monetary poverty are energy poor and indeed not all those in energy poverty are necessarily income poor. Energy poor households are faced with the choice of using an above-average portion of their income on heat, light, cooling, cooking and appliance use; or going without these essentials, resulting in a cold and uncomfortable home and reduced living standards. The consequences include significant deteriorations in people’s physical health and mental well-being, along with premature death related to severe winter and summer conditions, as well as more restricted lifestyles and social exclusion.

The efforts to reduce energy poverty have continued globally both in developing and developed countries during the past decades. While a great deal of effort is expended on analysing energy poverty at the macro-, or the meso-, level there remains a gap in our collective understanding of how best to identify and engage with energy-poor households at the local level. This is true across both developing and developed contexts. Identifying those suffering from energy poverty can be a major obstacle to the efficient implementation of energy poverty policies. However, the variable causes of energy poverty in different contexts mean that the adequate identification of energy-poor households remains a critical challenge.

This panel aims to provoke a conversation that extends our understanding of the lived experiences of energy poverty at the household level, across developed and developing contexts. This includes exploring the range of methods to identify energy-poor households, measure energy poverty and characterise those most at risk or vulnerable to energy poverty, including instances of so-called “hidden energy poverty”. Finally, the session will also aim to discuss the most appropriate practices for supporting energy-poor households across regions.

The session will follow the panel format proposed by this year’s conference: contributors will be asked to submit videos/audio recordings or a written version in advance and will be encouraged to start with a two-minute pitch to highlight their main contribution and ask a provocative question for participants to reflect on and discuss during the session.

Accepted papers: