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From discussions on challenges and advancements related to energy poverty in Ireland, to expositions on human engagement with energy initiatives, the meeting room hummed with activities. The EPAH National Stakeholder Conference and Roundtable Meeting held on 20th March 2024 at Wynn’s Hotel, Dublin, with representatives from Local Authorities, NGOs, and people passionate about solving energy poverty in Ireland, present.

The event kicked off with a presentation by the Irish Country Coordinator of the project for SEEA, Michael Doran. He spoke on groups affected by energy poverty in Ireland, factors affecting energy poverty, and identified primary barriers that hinder efforts to address energy poverty in local communities and regions such as policy and regulatory challenges. He also stated that poor housing quality and fuel poverty, data and monitoring, behavioural and cultural factors, also acted as major barriers.

‘Energy poverty in Ireland also has been linked to excess winter mortality, increased rates of respiratory diseases, and to overall negative effects of mental health and wellbeing. These vulnerable groups not able to afford, finance, or be aware of how to complete the “energy transition” can be some of the most affected by it!! Need assistance’.

– Michael Doran

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Epah Conference Carlow County Presentation By Lilly & Jannette

Senior Executive Engineer, Carlow County Council, Lilly Slye, and Climate Action Coordinator, Carlow County Council, Jannette O Brien, both gave an overview of energy use in Carlow, factors that influence for fuel poverty such as low income and poor quality of houses, and high fuel costs.

The Head of Policy, and Advocacy, Biodiversity Lead, Irish Green Building Council, Marion Jammet, shared best practices, challenges, and successes in combating energy poverty. She listed some of the challenges as accessibility, affordability, skills and labour shortages, and social housing, proffering solutions such as prioritisation of energy renovation, improved funding mechanisms and setting up mechanisms to support households falling just above the free energy upgrade.

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‘Energy renovation must not be viewed as purely a climate action tool but also as a fundamental poverty reduction measure which can improve quality of life and increase resilience’.

– Marion Jammet

Research Fellow at University of Cork, Dr Breffní Lennon, during his presentation emphasised the nuanced aspects of human engagement with energy initiative.  He shared some of the outcomes from engaged research focusing on energy poverty like an increase in their knowledge of household energy use, development of greater confidence by participants in dealing with energy utilities (or building management) and direct changes in energy-related behaviour. A key thing he pointed out was that no one-size-fits all and very often, it requires a tailored solution that is more holistic.

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The roundtable meeting which was a closed-door event had attendees reflecting on their local experiences and insights gained during the national events, and what specific actions, tools, or support are crucial at the local level to effectively address energy poverty. There were also discussions on what game-changing policy manoeuvres could unlock a brighter future. The result of this session will be reported to DG Energy during the EPAH Policy conference this April in Brussels.