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Fuel poverty as injustice: Integrating distribution, recognition and procedure in the struggle for affordable warmth

Description

Bringing attention to fuel poverty as a distinct manifestation of social inequality has asserted the place of affordable warmth in the profile of contemporary rights and entitlements. As such, fuel poverty can be understood as an expression of injustice, involving the compromised ability to access energy services and thereby to secure a healthful living environment. In this paper, we consider how fuel poverty may be aligned to various alternative concepts of social and environmental justice. Whilst recognising that fuel poverty is fundamentally a complex problem of distributive injustice, we argue that other understandings of injustice are also implicated and play important roles in producing and sustaining inequalities in access to affordable warmth. Addressing fuel poverty has to involve seeking justice in terms of the cultural and political recognition of vulnerable and marginalised social groups and pursuing procedural justice through opening up involvement and influence in decision-making processes. We make this argument both in theoretical terms, and through considering the experience of fuel poverty advocacy and policy development in the UK. Opportunities for future action may be illuminated through such interconnected justice framings as wider awareness of energy, climate and poverty issues emerge.