Ramping up our action to address energy poverty!

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Ireland’s current energy system isn’t working. Our energy supply is still dominated by fossil fuels, our buildings are inefficient and one in three Irish households are now living in energy poverty. This number is likely to increase as we face a winter with further energy price hikes. Energy poverty harms the most vulnerable: low-income families, single-parent homes (which are 80% women-led), the elderly and people of colour. 

The energy shock caused by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has only served to highlight the dangers of fossil fuel dependence; it locks us into energy poverty and energy insecurity while also fuelling climate chaos, war and violence. It’s crucial that we get off fossil fuels now while simultaneously tackling energy poverty - access to energy is a basic human right!

Energy poverty social justice graphic

At Friends of the Earth we’re ramping up our action on energy poverty. The energy poverty and energy pollution crises share the same root causes - and can be solved with the same shared solutions. Making this an exciting issue for climate activists to get working on! We’ve been doing some thinking on the measures Government must take to cut people’s energy bills, save energy and reduce pollution. This has informed a five point plan that we’ve urged the Government to adopt to prepare for winter and the increased energy challenges it will bring.

Working on energy poverty is providing us with new opportunities to collaborate with a diverse range of groups and organisations - and to stand in solidarity with those who are most impacted by some of the issues we work on. We’ve been working with NGOs from the environmental and anti-poverty sectors to develop shared demands that we can put to the Government to tackle both energy poverty and climate pollution.

In July we presented these demands and a joint statement to politicians and experts in the Oireachtas. We called for sweeping cross-Government action to simultaneously eliminate energy poverty and reduce Ireland’s polluting emissions by 51% by 2030. We asked the Government to target support this winter to those most affected by rising energy costs, and to prioritise low-income households in national retrofitting efforts. You can read more about this here and see some media coverage on it here.

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Energy-efficient renovations are a fast and easy way to slash emissions, reduce fossil fuel use, slash energy bills and improve people’s homes! They also create lots of green local jobs. Renovations like this are often referred to as “retrofitting”. At the moment there are several barriers to retrofitting in Ireland which need to be identified and addressed so that we can dramatically scale up the number of energy efficient homes in Ireland, starting with those in energy poverty. 

This summer we produced a research report on obstacles to retrofitting in Ireland. It provided an overview of the challenges faced by Irish households, policymakers, and government bodies in achieving Ireland’s retrofit and heat pump targets and also included a range of solutions identified by experts. You can read more about the report and download a copy of its full text here.

We’re also supporting the Friends of the Earth community to get active on energy poverty - starting with a webinar that we hosted last month to help people make submissions to a Government consultation on energy poverty.  You can watch the webinar back here or in the screen below.

There’s lots of public support for the actions we’re proposing to reduce energy poverty and energy pollution. Polling commissioned by Friends of the Earth found strong public support for measures, like a windfall tax, on energy companies that are profiteering from the energy crisis. It also found that a huge majority of people would prefer Government supports and grants for home insulation and heat pumps to be more targeted at those in low income households who are most at risk of energy poverty. We hope that the energy poverty work we’re embarking on will have a tangible impact to both cut pollution and improve the lives of those trapped in energy poverty. 

 

Image credit: The illustration used in the banner image at the top of this page was created by Iris Aghedo, graphic designer.