Energy poverty affects more than 50 million Europeans. It is particularly widespread in Central, Eastern and Southern Europe, due to a complex combination of economic and infrastructural factors. The European Union’s recently-adopted 'Clean energy for all Europeans' package features numerous policies measures to monitor and address energy poverty. Their implementation will mean direct improvements to the lives of millions of Europeans, and a significant boost to global efforts to fight climate change.
In this talk, I discuss how we can best utilize cross-sectoral and trans-national information and knowledge exchange in the struggle to address energy poverty in Europe. Effective solutions to energy poverty, I argue, can only happen if we recognize the inherently political nature of energy poverty, and the complex manner in which it is embedded in the spatial structure of European neighbourhoods, cities and regions.
I develop and discuss examples from several recently completed and on-going projects: EVALUATE (Energy Vulerability in Urban Transitions in Europe), ENGAGER (European Enery Poverty: Agenda Co-Creation and Knowledge Innovation), EPOV (EU Energy Poverty Observatory), and STEP IN (Using Living Labs to roll out Sustainable Strategies for Energy Poor Individuals). All of these projects have helped changing how energy poverty is approached, by moving beyond incomes, prices and energy efficiency onto wider socio-technical dimensions such as energy needs, recognition, practices and housing structures as well as the regulation and governance of the energy sector. They have engaged an exceptionally wide range of institutional stakeholders through collaborative approaches and co-creation – workshops, seminars, conferences, online and social media activity – and bringing energy poverty-related issues to the attention of multiple high-level European Union decision makers.