The Energy Poverty Advisory Hub hosted their annual conference on September 19th and 20th, 2023. Municipalities, energy agencies, European bodies, and private organisations from across Europe gathered at the Palace of Nature and Science in Warsaw to discuss energy poverty. This energy poverty annual conference consisted of keynote addresses from leading officials as well as panel discussions and workshops looking at the different aspects of energy poverty. South East Energy Agency was honoured to host one such workshop through the Interreg North West Europe SCEPA project.
The conference was opened with a keynote speech from Rafał Trzaskowski, Mayor of Warsaw who was followed by Tadhg O’Briain, Deputy Head of Unit, Unit B1 Consumers, Local Initiatives, Just Transition, European Commission. Mayor Rafał Trzaskowski spoke of his experience in dealing with energy poverty in Warsaw and spoke frankly on some of the difficulties in addressing it. He noted that when you deal with green issues you identify other problems which allows you to place your focus.
Some of the themes from the talks throughout day one of the energy poverty annual conference focused on the need to transition from coping mechanisms to actions that will alleviate energy poverty and deal with energy poverty at a local level. Joško Klisović (President of the Assembly in the City of Zagreb) and Drogosz Leszek (Head of Department of Infrastructure, City of Warsaw) discussed the importance of energy poverty action in the local level. Joško Klisović commented that policy is only as good as its implementation, so municipalities must turn it into action. Drogosz Leszek builds on this stating that the lower you go with what defines energy poverty at a national, regional, and local level, the more precise your actions can become. Finally, Dorota Zawadzka-Stępniak, (Director, Air Protection and Climate Policy Department, City of Warsaw) added that cooperation between cities is also important for this local action.
On the second day, South East Energy Agency hosted a workshop titled “Empowering Energy Equity: Strategies for Reaching and Engaging Vulnerable Consumers and Stakeholders”. This session was run through the Interreg NWE SCEPA project and was focused on considering who to target when using the definition of ‘vulnerable people’ and how to reach them. Through the session, some of the key potential partners identified included community groups, churches, local authorities, local champions, and other NGOs. To reach these vulnerable people groups typically zoned in on online advertising but also local press. We also asked the working groups to consider how they could monitor their efforts and what obstacles do they foresee. For monitoring, one group had the idea of using hashtags to monitor their social media success while another recommended using local retrofitting works being carried out as an indicator. Trust and funding were key barriers identified as was ensuring these efforts differ from current ones to ensure that we don’t reach the same groups as others.