As one of the co-founding members of the Right to Energy Coalition, EAPN was honoured to launch the Right to Energy Forum 2022, together with the European Public Service Unions (EPSU) and Friends of the Earth Europe.
We presented the new EAPN-EPSU briefing on the right to affordable, clean energy for all Europeans, during the opening session. These three statistics show the extent of the problem:
- Every fourth person in Bulgaria cannot keep their home adequately warm.
- 7 in 10 Portuguese houses have low energetic efficiency.
- Almost 30% of people are at risk of poverty in Greece. It is one of the countries with most expensive electricity in Europe and where income poverty is significant. The Greek government is rapidly decarbonising electricity production without addressing the social consequences.
Spyros Psychas from the Greek Anti-Poverty Network, Maria Jeliazkova, from the Bulgarian Anti-Poverty Network and Institute of Philosophy and Sociology at Bulgarian Academy of Sciences, and Cátia Santos from the Portuguese Anti-Poverty Network and the National Observatory Against Poverty, captivated the audience by illustrating why we need to act on energy poverty.
Right now, skyrocketing energy prices are exacerbating energy poverty, pushing millions of Europeans to choose between eating and heating. But energy poverty is not a new phenomenon. Since 2017, the Right to Energy movement has forged a people-powered movement to challenge energy poverty across Europe. In 2021, we came together to shape new vital EU legislation including the Fit for 55 package and the revised Energy Performance of Buildings Directive.
Access to affordable clean energy is a human right, and equal participation in a low-carbon economy must not be a privilege for a few!
People living on inadequate income and in energy-inefficient houses are paying a high price for soaring energy costs, are often missed out on deep renovation and risk getting locked in the fossil fuel infrastructure in the next decade. The transition to climate neutrality has also an unequal impact on the workforce in terms of upskilling and reskilling, access to green jobs and decent working conditions.
EAPN believes that the Forum is the right place to remind that social justice should be at the core of the energy and climate transitions. Achieving a socially inclusive decarbonisation and ensuring affordable adequate housing are a collective responsibility.
This year’s programme offered 5 days of discussions and interactive sessions with activists, politicians, environmental NGOs, trade unions, EU decision makers and solidarity collectives from across Europe to discuss energy poverty and its place in the social justice and climate movement as well as solutions to eradicate it.
The following themes were discussed:
- Energy poverty and climate justice, showcasing the right to energy movement across the EU and explaining why it’s a climate justice issue.
- Addressing the root causes of Energy poverty, showcasing renovations and renewables as a crucial solution to tackle energy poverty.
- Towards an energy system for people and planet, showcasing the need to change the energy system, and exposing how the neoliberal energy market exploits poor households.
- From words to action: Commitments across the EU, showcasing the high-level commitments and actions taken by and in the EU.
- The Next Steps for the Right to Energy movement, how to continue strategising as a movement in the year ahead.