The European Commission has published a new study on the state of energy poverty across Europe. Its insights may also be helpful in development cooperation, since it may help to target poliotrical measures more precisely to deal with particular issue, which may be caused by structural or by temporary factors, by lack of income, high energy prices, poor inefficient technology or other.
A quite interesting study on energy poverty - at least to my judgment - is hidden in the voluminous European Commission’s energy summer package. Although the responsibility for addressing energy poverty, identifying vulnerable consumers and putting measures in place lies with national governments, the EC is concerned that countries do not currently identify or quantify vulnerable consumers, and therefore cannot adequately target energy poverty measures. The EC has published a study which has found that energy poverty may affect nearly 11% of EU population.
A distinction is made between energy poverty and energy consumer vulnerability, although these are interrelated. This turns out to be helpful, to me and I suppose many colleagues and partners in development cooperation.
Energy poverty is understood by some authors as ‘The impossibility (or the difficulty) for a household to gain access to the energy it needs to ensure dignified living conditions at an affordable price from the point of view of its income.” Energy vulnerability is rather defined by a relatively – depending on the country - high percentage of household income to be spend for energy services including transport.
The two issues need different policies. In the words of the study's recommendations: “Energy poverty concerns affordability, is often structural in nature and requires a long-term, preventive approach” whereas “Vulnerable consumer issues concern protection within and full access to the market, and curative solutions.”
When thinking of all the measures which can be found in the world or thought of to deal with the two issues, one may immediately try to classify whether they are helpful for the one or for the other: social pricing schemes, subsidized prices, cross-subsidies, financial support from social policy mechanisms, cash compensations, energy considerations in social housing, exchange of equipment including lighting or induction stoves, LPG-cooking programs, improved cook-stoves, rural electrification, micro grids etc.
The study also recommends to develop appropriate metrics for both aspects.
The data are not always sufficient to determine the status in each country, however the direction is clearer and also the
possibility to montoring becomes feasible.
Dr. Paul H. Suding Mail: email@example.com
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