What is fuel poverty?
Energy poverty officially designates “the difficulty for households to afford adequate heat in their home. Thus, fuel poverty is a violation of the importance of access to safe and sustainable housing. Besides, “Fuel poverty is a and a multi-scale problem, related to household level to country level and demand to supply side. There are many factors that shape fuel poverty, including social and economic conditions. Ultimately, fuel poverty is an essential aspect of the lack of access to the basic needs of people living in poverty around the world.
Fuel poverty in France
Energy poverty in France is exceptionally high, because energy costs have been increasing steadily since 2004. In addition, they show that 3.5 million households suffered from cold in their homes in 2006. 3, 8 million spent more than 10% of their income to pay their energy bill. Grenoble-native Chris Dickson told the Borgen Project that “today, according to the ONPE (National Office for Energy Poverty), this figure can be estimated more precisely at 5 million”. This increase in citizens suffering from insufficient heating in their homes indicates an increase in fuel poverty in France.
The capital of the Alps
Nicknamed the French capital of the Alps, Grenoble is a medium-sized city with more than 500,000 inhabitants. Climatic problems arise in Grenoble mainly because of the high mountains, which trap pollution ”emitted mainly by cars and wood-burning fireplaces all over town. In addition, Grenoble is also more at risk due to the cold winter months. Grenoble can drop to lows of 30 to 35 degrees Fahrenheit. Grenoble is at high risk of fuel poverty due to its geographic location and current climate challenges.
Asked about poverty in Grenoble, Dickson told the Borgen Project that “my husband worked for a charity for five years and saw the demand for help triple from 2015 to 2020. The Restos du Cœur operates like a food bank, a soup kitchen, distributes clothes to the needy and provides other services. Today, it is difficult to imagine the detrimental effects of the COVID pandemic. However, we know that they are unable to meet the demand. The beneficiaries of these charitable programs are mainly people who can no longer make ends meet. The link between the rise of poverty in Grenoble and the inability to obtain thermal energy in housing is significant.
Efforts against fuel poverty
Some have tried to fight against the rise of fuel poverty in Grenoble. In 2014, Eric Piolle became the first mayor of the Greens of France. Dickson explained to Project Borgen how Piolle helped. She said: “It has put in place a number of programs to tackle the problem of fuel poverty with a view to achieving the energy transition that will be necessary for the future. For example, Piolle has contributed to the creation of government agencies such as the Office National de la Précarité Énergétique to help people facing energy poverty. OPAH Operation programmed for the improvement of the Habitat which subsidizes the rehabilitation of housing in disadvantaged districts by renovating the insulation and modernizing the heating installations to ensure their efficiency.
The future of fuel poverty
In addition, individuals can contact the Center Communal d’Action Sociale de Grenoble to ask for help in the event of a problem. A specialist advisor will help them find a solution. In addition, these efforts set an example for the rest of France. According to Dickson, “In 2014, Eric Piolle was the first mayor of Europe Ecologie Les Verts to be elected in a city of more than 100,000 inhabitants in France. Today there are seven more.
These efforts all represent real progress in the fight against fuel poverty at government level. The re-election of Piolle in 2020 reveals the confidence of the people of Grenoble in his strategies. However, rising rates indicate a significant increase in labor. The pandemic and the current refugee crisis are contributing to poverty and fuel poverty. Having access to a shelter that provides adequate heat is a human necessity.
– Sébastien fell
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