Energy Poverty and Social Isolation
Room A3H-1, European Parliament
16th - 16th October 2018
15.30 - 19.00
Energy poverty is defined as the inability of households to access adequate energy services, including: home heating/cooling, electrical appliances and mobility. Since the global financial crash and the ‘cost of living crisis’ that has accompanied austerity, energy poverty is a pressing concern for many households across Europe. The launch of the EU’s Energy Poverty Observatory in 2018 shows the high political priority that is being given to this issue. Drawing on qualitative evidence from multiple disciplines, this event will examine the role that people’s social networks play in their ability to cope with a lack of access to energy services and its impacts on their health. Initial findings from a recent collaboration across the White Rose Universities will be shared and experts in the field will facilitate policy-relevant discussions of how frontline efforts to address energy poverty can be supported.
Hosted by Theresa Griffin MEP, there will be Panel contributions from Associate Professor Lucie Middlemiss, University of Leeds on social relations and poverty, Dr Tom Hargreaves, University of East Anglia on emotions and energy poverty, Johannes Thema, Wuppertal Institute for Climate, Environment and Energy on indicators of energy poverty and Paula Pinho, European Commission. Evidence from secondary data analysis suggests that people are less willing to look for help if they are stigmatised in doing so and this has an impact on their access to energy services. This has important implications for managing energy poverty: it is possible that ‘hard to reach’ people are made even harder to reach when they do not have a social support network to identify them as needing help. While energy poverty is frequently portrayed to be a technical or economic problem, findings from extensive UK-based research show that vulnerability to energy poverty has a critical social dimension.