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Manchester leads EU-wide project to investigate energy poverty

(1 February 2018)

An innovative new project which aims to examine energy poverty in Europe, and measures to combat it, has been launched at an event in Brussels. 

Energy poverty is the inability to secure adequate levels of energy services (which include heating, cooling, lighting and information technology), and is estimated to affect more than 50 million people in the European Union. 

The EU Energy Poverty Observatory, funded by the European Commission and chaired by Professor Stefan Bouzarovski from the School of Environment, Education and Development (SEED), is a vast effort involving 13 organisations including universities, advocacy groups, think tanks, and the business sector. Dr Harriet Thomson, an Honorary Research Fellow in SEED, is the Observatory’s Project Manager.

Through them, about 100 internationally-renowned experts will collect and publish Europe-wide energy poverty data while serving as the focal point of an emergent network of policy-makers, research scientists, advocacy groups and community activists interested in the issue.

The observatory is geared at improving the transparency of information and policy by bringing together the disparate sources of data and knowledge that exist in varying degrees across the whole of the EU. It also provides a user-friendly and open-access resource that promotes public engagement as well as informed decision making by local, national and EU-level decision makers. 

It will aim to improve energy poverty detection, measurement and reporting by creating a public forum for the exchange of knowledge on the issue.

“The EU energy poverty observatory will revolutionise government policy and academic scholarship on energy justice and equity across the world. For the first time in history, it will render a condition that affects millions of Europeans visible and measurable,” said Professor Stefan Bouzarovski. 

“Thanks to the observatory, the University of Manchester is now at the vanguard of a European and global effort to understand how changing energy prices and efforts to combat climate change – as well as climate change itself – affect vulnerable people.”