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A Just Energy Transition: Access to Energy as a Right, not a Privilege

Date

21 Nov 2022 16:30 to 18:00

Address

Town Hall Europe, Sq. de Meeûs 5, 1000 Brussels
Sq. de Meeûs 5
1000  Brussels
Belgium

Section

Energy
Social Europe & Jobs

Event Description

Join SOLIDAR, Social Platform, Foundation for European Progressive Studies (FEPS) and Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung (FES) for a roundtable discussion and reception!

Date: 21 November 2022, 16:30 – 18:00 (followed by an informal reception) 

Location: Town Hall Europe, Sq. de Meeûs 5, 1000 Brussels 

Principle 20 of the European Pillar of Social Rights states that “Everyone has the right to access essential services of good quality, including (…) energy (…). Support for access to such services shall be available for those in need”. The reality across Europe is, however, quite different. According to the European Commission, up to 125 million people (25 percent of the EU’s population) are at risk of or are already suffering from energy poverty. In 2019, it was estimated that over 50 million Europeans lived in energy poverty and struggled to keep their homes adequately warm or cool, pay their utility bills on time and live in healthy spaces. 

The Russian Federation’s horrific invasion of Ukraine has shifted the geopolitics of decarbonization and has made energy prices soar rapidly. While fossil fuel corporate profits skyrocket, the energy price crisis is deepening socioeconomic inequalities across Europe and pushing more people into poverty. This, however, cannot be used as an excuse to lower the EU’s ambitions to fight climate change and environmental degradation. On the contrary, the energy and cost of living crises powerfully illustrate how social justice and climate action are mutually reinforcing. They point out that it is paramount for socioeconomic fairness to be placed at the centre of the ecological transformation. 

What are the solutions to the energy price crisis? What can the EU do to put in motion a just energy transition and eradicate energy poverty? 

Social tariffs, energy cost subsidies, energy vouchers and other traditional financial instruments currently used by EU member states provide temporary direct income support for vulnerable consumers. However, these measures do not tackle the structural causes of energy poverty, responding only to the cost of energy. Similarly, REPowerEU, the EU’s strategy to boost Europe’s energy independence, falls short of addressing the issue of energy poverty, as it does not foresee funding or further regulation to kickstart subsidised renovation programmes. In 2021, the European Commission proposed a regulation establishing a Social Climate Fund as part of the first Fit for 55 package to provide support for citizens, should climate measures lead to higher energy bills or to other unfair impacts on people in vulnerable situations. However, existing financial instruments appear to be entirely insufficient to face this overlapping crisis. Recently, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen announced that decisions on the regulation of the energy market prices are on the horizon. 

Energy poverty is a violation of the universal human right to a decent life. Therefore, we must accelerate the transition to renewable energy, reduce the consumption of energy, while, at the same time, addressing structural injustices such as the lack of resources to insulate homes. In this roundtable, organised by SOLIDAR, Foundation for European Progressive Studies (FEPS), Social Platform and Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung (FES), speakers from Civil Society and Institutions will share insights on how to tackle the issue of energy poverty through a strong integration of social policies and climate action. 

Draft programme:

16:30 Welcoming words by László Andor, FEPS Secretary General  

16:40 Keynote speech by Enrico Giovannini, former Minister of Sustainable Infrastructure and Mobility of Italy (tbc)  

17:00 Panel discussion on “Putting in motion a just energy transition – How?”  

  • Moderator: Alva Finn, Social Platform Secretary General 
  • Thor-Sten Vertmann, Member of Cabinet of Commissioner for Energy Kadri Simson (tbc) 
  • MEP Niels Fuglsang, S&D (via video recording or live) (tbc) 
  • Councillor Marta Bardón Fernández-Pacheco, Permanent Representative of Spain to the European Union
  • Martin Pejřimovský, Energy attaché at Permanent Representation of the Czech Republic to the EU (tbc)  
  • Enrico Giovannini, former Minister of Sustainable Infrastructure and Mobility of Italy (tbc) 
  • László Andor, FEPS Secretary General 
  • Laia Segura, Co-Coordinator of the Right to Energy Coalition

17:50 Closing remarks by Alva Finn, Social Platform Secretary General 

18:00 Informal reception 

Please register using this link by Friday, 18 November. 

For any queries, please contact Andrea Casamenti at andrea.casamenti@solidar.org