By Stefan Bouzarovski
Later this week, the University of Manchester will host an international conference on the spatial, social and environmental dimensions of energy vulnerability. I have already announced the call for papers and participants for this event several times on this blog … The gathering, which is supported by the Meeting Place of the UK Energy Research Centre (UKERC), will run from midday on the 21st of May until midday on the 23rd of May. It includes an early career symposium with papers by more than 20 researchers working in this field (21-22 May), and a research colloquium (22-23 May) featuring presentations by a range of leading academics and policy-makers. More than 60 participants from across the UK and Europe are expected to attend.
The event is a joint initiative of the Energy Geographies Working Group of the Royal Geographical Society, and the International Energy Vulnerability Network. The two organisations will bring together academic researchers, policy advocates and members of community groups to consider the ‘pathways to vulnerability’ through which individuals and communities become exposed to fuel poverty.
In a broader sense, the event is aimed at discussing ways in which the current definition of fuel poverty can move beyond the energy affordability-efficiency nexus onto wider questions of recognition, need, and social justice. We will also open a discussion of the community dimensions of fuel poverty, especially in terms of the extent to which area-based, local government-led interventions can provide effective policies to address the issue. A number of contributions at the event will attempt to link fuel poverty debates more explicitly into the climate change and decarbonisation agenda – particularly with respect to the UK’s multiple future energy supply scenarios.
Several papers will argue that a much more ambitious and comprehensive approach to tacking fuel poverty and energy efficiency improvements will be necessary if we are to genuinely start addressing the driving forces of this predicament – not the least given its stubborn persistence and significant extent in the UK and beyond.