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The UB-IEB Chair of Energy Sustainability analyses the role of local agents in the fight against energy poverty



The fight against energy poverty must be channelled through government bodies, third sector entities, and academic institutions at local level, since these are the agents that are in the closest contact with groups in difficulties or at risk of social exclusion. This is one of the main conclusions of the study ‘Energy poverty: Creating an ecosystem of agents able to combat it through proximity interventions’, produced by the Chair of Energy Sustainability of the University of Barcelona-IEB and published by the Naturgy Foundation.

The research, directed by Professor María Teresa Costa-Campi, analyses the roles of the actors involved in the mitigation of energy poverty and proposes ways of improving their coordination and cooperation.

Spain is one of the EU countries with the highest levels of energy poverty. In 2012, it came tenth in the ranking of the number of households unable to keep their home at an adequate temperature (with a rate of 9.1%). Ten years later, however, after the impact of Covid-19 and the energy crisis, Spain has risen to sixth position, with a proportion of 17.1% of households in this situation compared with an EU average of 9.3%.

Energy poverty derives not just from the presence of low incomes in the family unit, but also from the low energy efficiency of buildings and energy-consuming equipment, the lack of consumer training, and rising energy prices. It has severe consequences for health, increasing social exclusion and seriously harming the general well-being of families.

According to the study, the fight against energy poverty should be focused from the bottom up, from the micro to the macro, and should prioritize the engagement of local institutions, since these are the actors in closest contact with the groups in difficulties or at risk of social exclusion. The model proposed allows us to focus on the problems facing the most vulnerable groups and to tailor our actions to respond better to their needs, through the cooperation and empowerment of the stakeholders if the local ecosystem.

The study indicates that it is government bodies – especially at local level – that promote the majority of the measures designed to combat energy poverty.