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25 July, 2024
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Energy poverty: The nightmare that everyone is attempting to alleviate

In the run-up to winter, Europeans are racing to alleviate the significant increase in energy burdens for households

Source: Kathimerini Cyprus

"Energy poverty is a major social issue with a direct impact on health that affects approximately 54 million Europeans. High energy prices, low incomes, and damp, unhealthy homes with poor insulation all contribute to higher rates of energy poverty," according to a statement published on the website of the European Committee of Regions on June 2019.

Three years later, and while the Commission had already published its own report "on how energy poverty can be reduced at the local level" ("Tackling energy poverty through local action - Inspiring cases from across Europe") in 2021, the problem is now resurfacing, exacerbated by the effects of Ukraine's war, causing intense concern ahead of winter.

European governments are taking extraordinary measures (subsidies, for example) to try to reduce the energy burden on households, which are now paying much higher rates for electricity, heating, and transportation. In a similar vein, the Commission's REPowerEU plan, presented last May, is being promoted, a plan that, following the Ecofin decisions of 4 October, can now be incorporated into national Recovery and Resilience Plans, paving the way for additional funding for specific measures.

"Energy poverty is when people cannot keep their homes warm. And that causes huge problems," Simon Francis of the End Fuel Poverty Coalition tells Al Jazeera.

However, as the UK exits the EU, the problem becomes even more acute. "As the war in Ukraine continues to disrupt global energy supplies, sending energy prices soaring," reports the website Gzero, "more than 7 million British households are heading for fuel poverty this winter, meaning they will spend at least 10% of their incomes on energy." And it is expected that hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of households in the United Kingdom will stop paying their energy bills beginning in October.

[With information from Gzero, Al Jazeera, European Commission]

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