Housing exclusion is characterized by unaffordable and/or poor-quality housing. Energy poverty and housing exclusion are two of the main challenges that households are facing today in Europe, especially those who are living below the poverty threshold. In 2019 in the European Union, one out of five poor households were living in a cold home. 7% of the total population and 18% of the poor population were financially unable to keep their home adequately warm2. The cost of energy in inefficient and poor-quality housing is disproportionality high. For those who can’t cover their energy and housing costs, the impacts in living conditions are huge, with negative consequences on health, family and social life.
The Renovation Wave is a crucial part of the new European Green Deal, as roughly 75% of buildings in the EU are not energy efficient, yet 85-95% of today’s buildings will still be in use in 2050. This strategy aims to double annual energy renovation rates in the next 10 years. The Fit for 55 legislative package will lay the foundations of the Renovation Wave and more broadly create the framework for the EU to reach its goal of cutting emissions by 55% until 2030. The first part of the Fit for 55 Package was published on July 14th, 2021. It includes published proposals on European Trading System (ETS) extension to buildings, Recast of the Energy Efficiency Directive (EED), Regulation establishing a Social Climate Fund. In December 2021 will be published the Revision of the Energy Performance of Buildings Directive (EPBD) and the Council Recommendation as to how best to address the social and labour aspects of the climate transition
If the EU gets it right, the desired Renovation Wave is a transition promise and an unprecedented opportunity for social justice. The Renovation Wave could create a win-win: addressing housing exclusion and tackling climate change. It could renovate unfit housing, creating decent living conditions and lifting millions of people out of (energy) poverty. Nevertheless, the Renovation Wave entails risks in terms of higher energy and housing costs. The costs of the transition in Europe’s homes cannot be borne by the most vulnerable. There is a real danger that the Renovation Wave will contribute to more housing exclusion and even a rise in already alarming levels of homelessness.
The urgent question is “How to design a Renovation Wave that leaves no-one behind?”. This debate is an opportunity to exchange on the housing exclusion risks embedded in the current legislative proposals & to share concrete ideas on how to address them.
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