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Ahead of Energy Poverty Week, COFACE’s Director calls on prioritising energy poor households in the EU Renovation Wave

“The Renovation Wave, just like our economic system, needs to work for all of society”

As member of the Right to Energy Coalition, COFACE Families Europe supports the Energy Poverty week. From the 15th to the 19th of February, coalition’s members and allies will raise awareness on energy poverty in Europe. So what is it? Poverty is a complex, multi-layered reality and energy poverty is part of it for more than 34 million European unable to properly lit, heat their home or pay the energy bills, and the cause of around 100 000 deaths each year. It is a denial of their fundamental rights and human dignity. The number for 2020 are not available but with the COVID-19 crisis, families were stuck at home with increased need for energy and often lower income, these numbers are likely to rise. As other forms of poverty, energy poverty often affect the already vulnerable such as low income families, single-parents, migrant families…

With the EU rolling out its green transition, the question of Europe’s energy poor has become more visible in the policy discourse. The Commission issued a recommendation on Energy Poverty, and mention it in one of the flagship initiative of its climate policy: the Renovation Wave, aiming at tackling the energy performance of buildings in Europe. Along with the Right to Energy Coalition, COFACE Families Europe calls on the EU and Members state to ensure a sustainable fair and equal transition, prioritising residential housing and energy poverty. COFACE Families Europe presented the point of view of civil society and families at the High-level round table on the Renovation wave organised at the European Economic and Social Committee section TEN, which drafted the EESC’s opinion, on the 11th of February, specifically asking for:

  1. Mainstreaming energy poverty in existing legislation;
  2. Explicit targeting of residential buildings and social housing as renovation wave pioneers;
  3. The need for an EU fun specifically for energy efficiency measures for low-income households.

Elizabeth Gosme, COFACE Families Europe’s director took the floor to demand an implementation of the renovation wave that works for people and the community. She highlighted the importance of inclusive, accessible and continuous communication and meaningful involvement of the community and a thorough social impact assessment to avoid unintended effects such as “renovictions”. This will require to actively reaching out and involve vulnerable groups facing e.g. other exclusion and poverty risks as lack of digital access, health issues, disability status, language barriers… The Renovation Wave and other decent housing initiatives need to target energy poor to ensure that the sustainable transition is the motor for a fairer, more equal and accessible society in Europe.

If you want more information on energy poverty, follow us and other members of the Right to Energy Coalition on Twitter.

How the fight against energy poverty went online is topic of our recent opinion article here.

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