Local solutions for the fight against energy poverty

Energy poverty is a European-wide problem which, if left untreated, is likely to worsen in the current economic climate. It risks locking some EU consumers out of the energy transition currently under way and prevent them from benefitting from the advantages of an integrated, modernised and consumer-centric internal energy market.

Energy poverty is understood as the situation where households are not able to meet their basic domestic energy needs at an affordable cost. It is mainly driven by low income, rising energy bills, and poor energy performance of homes and buildings.

There are four key issues in effectively and cost-efficiently handling the problem:

  1. defining the problem;
  2. collecting comparable and relevant data;
  3. targeting actions/remedies to the truly affected consumers; and 4) identifying and sharing good practices within the EU.

Tackling energy poverty requires a holistic approach underpinned by a joint, strong effort at all levels: local, national, regional and European.

This session will show why and how action at the regional and local levels is crucial and echoes mayors' willingness to address energy poverty. Towns, cities and regions are often best placed to identify at an early stage those households at risk of energy poverty and thus tackle it in the most effective way. In particular, this session will feature examples from the Covenant of Mayors, the world’s largest bottom-up initiative of local and regional authorities committed to decarbonisation, climate resilience and access to secure, sustainable and affordable energy. Covenant of Mayors signatories have agreed to act on energy poverty and to seek synergies with their climate change mitigation and adaptation measures (e.g. energy efficiency in buildings) therefore contributing to an inclusive and sustainable energy transition. A partnership between the Covenant and the European Commission may offer concrete ways to address both of these key objectives at the same time.