Submission to the Department of Environment, Climate and Communications on a new Energy Poverty Action Plan

Access to adequate levels of energy is a precondition to the realisation of many rights, impacting our lives, health and living standards. It is furthermore essential to social inclusion and is increasingly connected to employment opportunities in Ireland, with many workplaces opting for a remote or hybrid approach, reducing the need for employees to relocate from rural to urban areas. It is essential therefore that energy poverty is addressed through a rights-based approach. A rights-based approach clarifies the accountability of government (at all levels) to people, particularly marginalized and vulnerable groups. As energy poverty is a multi-dimensional problem, it requires a multi-dimensional response. A rights-based approach can facilitate coherence and coordination across law and policy, enabling an integrated and whole-of-government approach. This is essential, given that energy poverty falls within the remit of multiple Departments – Environment, Climate and Communications; Health; Housing, Local Government and Heritage; and the Department of Social Protection.

Almost half (48%) of Ireland’s housing stock is energy inefficient, with poorly insulated homes locked into fossil fuel dependence.[1] Our damp and energy inefficient housing stock is one of the leading contributors to Ireland’s emissions, accounting for 19.8% of Ireland’s carbon emissions.[2] If we are to meet Ireland’s legally binding climate targets, and avoid the worst impacts of the climate crisis, it is essential that we tackle energy poverty. There is no pathway to complete decarbonisation without addressing energy poverty. Measures taken to address energy poverty therefore work to safeguard the rights of all citizens – not only the energy-poor.

Read our submission in full here:

 

In addition to the Energy Poverty Action Plan Consultation, Community Law & Mediation recently 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. CLM is also a cosignatory of the recent joint statement by environmental and anti-poverty NGOs on Energy Poverty and Energy Pollution. Our recommendations for the National Budget 2023, including measures to address energy poverty, are available here.

[1] According to the Central Statistics Office, 48% of homes in Ireland have a BER rating between D-G https://www.cso.ie/en/releasesandpublications/er/dber/domesticbuildingenergyratingsquarter22021/#:~:text=118%25%20increase%20in%20Domestic%20BER%20audits%20in%20April%2DJune%202021&text=There%20were%2022%2C336%20Building%20Energy,223%25%20higher%20than%20April%202020

[2] https://www.seai.ie/data-and-insights/seai-statistics/key-publications/energy-in-residential-sector/