By sharing the knowledge about ‘who’ faces energy poverty and ‘where’ they live, the Center for the Study of Democracy aims to engage government, NGOs, energy agencies and even the public in efforts to reduce both energy poverty and CO2 emissions.
In Romania, at least 25% of the population is estimated to be living in energy poverty. High energy prices, limited access to diverse energy sources, inefficient buildings, ineffective consumption patterns and low incomes all play roles. Apart from putting severe financial strain on many households, this combination makes Romania one of the few countries where the residential sector accounts for the largest share of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.
At present, action is stalled by a serious lack of relevant data, particularly at the local level. As a result, low understanding of energy poverty and its impacts makes it difficult to lobby for policy action or develop appropriate tools. In turn, it is equally difficult to engage organisations – such as local, regional and national government agencies, NGOs and energy providers – that are typically involved in energy accessibility in other countries.
The Center for the Study of Democracy has enabled a network of stakeholders to facilitate and produce data that will allow for a mapping of the socio-spatial dimensions of energy poverty. To effectively apply the tool, the Center built partnerships with local authorities who can assist with data collection and technical experts who can help with analysis and dissemination, including measuring impacts of efficiency interventions and communication activities. The Center is particularly interested in better understanding current barriers to increased energy efficiency and resulting impacts on the climate.
Once the mapping is completed, the Center will create an online platform to share knowledge gained across stakeholder groups, host capacity building workshops, and distribute scientific reports, policy briefs and informational materials. In a bid to shift consumers to more efficient behaviour patterns, the Centre will also develop education programmes with solutions tailored to the needs of specific communities.
The ultimate aim is to dramatically reduce residential energy consumption as a means of helping Romania achieve its 2030 target of slashing GHG emissions by 49%.
The Center for the Study of Democracy is one of 15 finalists in the 2019 Social Innovation to Tackle Energy Poverty Initiative, launched by the Schneider Electric Foundation, Enel, and the Ashoka Foundations of Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Romania.