Name of presentation

The growing phenomenon of
fuel poverty across the
European Union
Harriet Thomson
• Only the UK, Ireland and France have a definition
• Evident from the literature that fuel poverty is a problem
across Europe:
Whyley and Callender (1997) – UK, IE, NL, DE
Healy and Clinch (2002) – EU14
Buzar (2007) – Eastern Europe
EPEE (2009) – BE, FR, IT, ES, UK
Tirado Herrero and Ürge-Vorsatz (2010) – Hungary
Huybrechs, Meyer and Vranken (2012) - Belgium
Thomson and Snell (2012) – EU25
• Significant gap in knowledge
Studying fuel poverty at the EU level
• The EU is a powerful political and economic institution
that has shaped fuel poverty relevant policy at the
member state level, e.g.
Liberalisation of the gas and electricity markets
Europe 2020 targets
Requirements for national fuel poverty action plans
Requirements for national energy ombudsmen
EU Emissions Trading Scheme
• Data issues
– No standardised fuel expenditure data
– UK unique in having a detailed housing survey
– Available data is difficult to access and has weaknesses
PhD methods
• Longitudinal analysis of consensual data
– EU Statistics on Income and Living Conditions
– Multilevel modelling
• Additional data analysis
– Gas and electricity prices
– Energy efficiency data
– Eurobarometer and European Quality of Life Survey
• Content analysis of policy documents
Overall, create a typology of EU fuel poverty
Consensual measurement
• EU Statistics on Income and Living Conditions
• Three key proxy indicators:
α) Ability to pay to keep the home adequately warm
β) Arrears on utility bills within last 12 months
γ) Presence of a leaking roof, damp walls or rotten windows
• Composite index developed using the following
weights for each proxy indicator:
0.50 α + 0.25 β + 0.25 γ
0.25 α + 0.50 β + 0.25 γ
0.25 α + 0.25 β + 0.50 γ
0.33 α + 0.33 β + 0.33 γ
Source: Thomson and Snell (2012)
Comparison of twice national median fuel spend
and composite consensual measurement
Twice national median fuel spend (2005 HBS)
Composite consensual measure (2007 EU-SILC)
Source: European Commission (2010) and author analysis of EU-SILC
• European fuel poverty research is constrained by the
lack of comparable data on household fuel spend,
necessitating the use of proxy indicators
• Initial analysis confirms previous findings concerning
European fuel poverty, and demonstrates that fuel
poverty is a problem for most Member States
• Despite this, levels of acknowledgement and acceptance
of fuel poverty as a policy problem are low across the
EU, with only three official definitions
Thank you for listening, any
questions or comments?
[email protected]
Buzar, S. (2007) Energy Poverty in Eastern Europe: Hidden
Geographies of Deprivation. Aldershot: Ashgate
EPEE, (2009) Tackling Fuel Poverty in Europe: Recommendations
Guide for Policy Makers.
European Commission (2010a) Commission Staff Working Paper: An
Energy Policy for Consumers. European Commission, Brussels.
Healy, J. D., and Clinch, P. (2002) Fuel poverty in Europe: A crosscountry analysis using a new composite measure. Environmental
Studies Research Series, University College Dublin.
Huybrechs F., Meyer S. and Vranken J. (2012) Energiearmoede in
Thomson, H., and Snell, C. (2012) Quantifying the prevalence of fuel
poverty across the European Union. Energy Policy,
Tirado Herrero, S. and Ürge-Vorsatz, D. (2010) Fuel poverty in
Hungary: A first assessment. Final report. Center for Climate Change
and Sustainable Energy Policy, Central European University.
Whyley, C. and Callender, C., (1997) Fuel poverty in Europe: evidence
from the European Household Panel Survey. National Energy Action,
Newcastle upon Tyne.
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