Cold hands holding mug of hot tea. Photo by fotografierende on Unsplash

Fuel and transport poverty in the UK’s energy transition (FAIR)

Our work on equity and justice examines the intersections between fuel and transport poverty, and low carbon energy transitions, in the United Kingdom.

As we move towards a net zero society, we need to ensure that everyone has access to affordable energy and transport to meet their every-day needs. This means being able to put the heating on, cook hot meals, wash clothes and use domestic appliances. It also means being able to travel affordably and sustainably to participate in society.

Fuel and transport poverty have until now typically been treated as distinct problems with their own causes and consequences. However, they can be interlinked which is why it is vital to research them together. We do this by interviewing households and experts, and mapping and surveying fuel and transport poverty prone regions across the UK in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. We will provide policy recommendations towards a net zero society where emissions are reduced alongside inequality and poverty.

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To address this, we will:

Examine who and where is vulnerable to fuel and transport poverty in the UK, to what extent, and why

We want to understand who may be vulnerable to fuel and transport poverty. This means examining the likelihood that a household will experience fuel and transport poverty, how it impacts on their well-being and how they can respond to it. We have a combined focus on people and places, and the relationships between the two. This way we can understand both the systemic and spatial drivers of vulnerability to fuel and transport poverty in the UK.

Unveil how vulnerability to fuel and transport poverty shapes the UK’s energy transition

We want to examine how those who are already vulnerable—be it for example due to a very low income, health reasons or language barriers—may be affected by an energy transition. We also want to see whether new inequalities may emerge as a result of an energy transition. Examples could include higher household energy bills as a result of net zero energy transition, or how poorly connected neighbourhoods could access zero carbon public transport. We aim to unveil if existing or new inequalities worsen as a result of future energy transitions, and on how to address them.

Propose an energy transition that promotes a more just society

Our research also moves fuel and transport poverty debates beyond the individual, to consider system-wide implications of energy and transport use. As part of our project, we will develop policy models and run policy workshops with key stakeholders from government, civil society, business and research. We will make policy recommendations so that we can design and develop energy transitions where no one is left behind.

Project team:

  • Dr Mari Martiskainen, University of Sussex (PI)
  • Professor Stefan Bouzarovski, University of Manchester
  • Dr Debbie Hopkins, University of Oxford
  • Dr Kirsten Jenkins, University of Edinburgh
  • Dr Paul McKenzie, University of Ulster
  • Dr Neil Simcock, Liverpool John Moores University
  • Professor Benjamin Sovacool, University of Sussex
  • Dr Giulio Mattioli, TU Dortmund University, Germany
  • Jennifer Dicks, Cambridge Econometrics
  • Hector Pollitt, Cambridge Econometrics
  • David Weatherall, Energy Saving Trust
  • Elaine Berry, Energy Saving Trust
  • Maria McLean, Energy Saving Trust
  • Chaitanya Kumar, Green Alliance

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Banner photo credit: fotografierende on Unsplash

Synthesising an energy justice and vulnerability framework

We are developing a conceptual model that creates an analytical framework to be applied to future research.

Identifying poverty and vulnerabilities: who, where and why?

This aspect of our work is exploring the eventualities that render households vulnerable in energy and transport systems.

Visualising and mapping vulnerabilities

This part of the project will quantify, model and map vulnerabilities to poverty in energy and transport systems.

Light reflections, photo by Andrew Haimerl on Unsplash

Our response to the Clean Growth Strategy

Shifting the focus: energy demand in a net-zero carbon UK is our first major cross-theme research report, and is a response to the Government’s Clean Growth Strategy.

The report proposes actions to strengthen and deliver the commitments in the Strategy, and seeks to answer the question: “what is the role for energy demand change in the transition to an energy system consistent with a net-zero carbon UK?”

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