Executive summary of the European Union Energy Poverty Observatory
This document summarises the results of all project tasks and deliverables completed by the European Union Energy Poverty Observatory (EPOV), a European Commission (EC) supported initiative to help Member States (MS) in their efforts to combat energy poverty and achieve a just and sustainable energy transition. When EPOV commenced its work in late 2016, the energy poverty challenge was associated with a relatively limited amount of policy and action at the European Union (EU) and MS level. Today, however, energy poverty is explicitly integrated in a number of EU directives and Member State policies, while gradually becoming a part of local government programmes. There is an active polity of practitioners, advocates and researchers committed to addressing the issue. The dramatic shift can be attributed to a variety of factors – from the rising prominence of energy and climate concerns in government policy, to the follow-on consequences of energy market liberalisation across the EU. At the same time, a number of relevant stakeholders – including non-governmental organisations, regional associations and business groups – have argued in favour of integrating social, housing and infrastructure dimensions in energy policy making. In concert with the expanding body of experts in the energy poverty domain, EPOV has actively worked towards creating both a knowledge base and targeted decision-support toolkit to address the issue. The challenges faced by EPOV upon its inception were formidable: there was a lack of agreement on which indicators could be used to address the issue, energy poverty data was specialised and difficult to access, and the multiple initiatives focusing on the project – from the local to the international scale – were disconnected and poorly visible. Having carried out extensive stakeholder and expert consultations, alongside data and information collection activities, EPOV defined a set of indicators that provide a comprehensive, detailed and authoritative overview of the structure and character of energy poverty, as well as the spatial and temporal variation of the problem. On its web portal (https://www.energypoverty.eu), EPOV also compiled and published the world’s largest database of energy poverty-relevant publications, measures and training resources. EPOV worked closely with relevant stakeholders (particularly the Covenant of Mayors) to formulate effective urban policies, while offering technical assistance to relevant government authorities and specialist institutions. The Observatory consortium organised a series of conferences and workshops attended by an estimated 1,000 participants.