Blog: The Energy Poverty Action Plan

September 5, 2022

How we can combat energy poverty while also meeting our climate targets

A new Energy Poverty Action Plan will be published by the Government in the coming weeks. The Plan will include immediate measures to ensure winter-readiness for those at risk of energy poverty, while also setting out medium-to-long term measures to alleviate energy poverty.

Access to adequate levels of energy is a precondition to the realisation of many rights impacting our lives, health and living standards. Energy poverty is not due to excess energy consumption, but inadequate income, poorly insulated housing, and energy prices.

Experiences of energy poverty at our community law centres

At our community law centres, energy poverty frequently presents as an underlying issue when a person or family comes to us with a housing, debt, health or employment problem. The ESRI estimates that 43% of households are now living in energy poverty, a record high.  Energy upgrades and SEAI grants are not a realistic prospect for most of the people we work with, many of whom are on low incomes, rent their homes or live in social housing. Members of the Traveller community are particularly exposed to energy poverty yet have consistently been overlooked when it comes to upgrade or retrofit initiatives.

Energy inefficient housing stock

The energy poverty crisis is compounded by the fact that almost half (48%) of Ireland’s housing stock is energy inefficient, with poorly insulated homes locked into fossil fuel dependence. Our damp and energy inefficient housing stock accounts for 19.8% of Ireland’s carbon emissions, with Irish homes being 60% more energy-intensive than the average EU home.

The Energy Poverty Action Plan – an opportunity

The Energy Poverty Action Plan presents a unique opportunity to equip and empower low income and marginalised communities to take action in relation to both energy poverty and climate challenges. In our submission, we call for the implementation of measures that both alleviate energy poverty while also actively addressing the climate crisis and our climate targets. We call for a range of targeted measures to ensure that low-income households, tenants, rural dwellers and the Traveller community can avail of retrofit initiatives. We call for a rights-based approach to the development of the Action Plan, to ensure it is poverty and equality proofed.

Read our recommendations here.

Read our Budget 2023 recommendations here.

Joint statement on Energy Poverty

In July, Community Law & Mediation issued a set of recommendations for a new Energy Poverty Strategy, endorsed by Age Action, Clondalkin Travellers Development Group, Community Work Ireland, Fridays for Future, FLAC, Friends of the Earth Ireland, Independent Living Movement Ireland, the INOU, The Irish Heart Foundation, the Irish Rural Link, the Irish Traveller Movement, the Jesuit Centre for Faith and Justice, National Traveller MABS, the Northside Partnership, Not Here Not Anywhere, Pavee Point, The Society of St Vincent de Paul, TASC and Threshold. We are also cosignatories of the recent joint statement by environmental and anti-poverty NGOs on Energy Poverty and Energy Pollution.

How can we help you?

If you are experiencing energy poverty, or would like to find out more about our services, please contact us on 01 847 7804 / 061 536 100 or click here for more information.