Empowering vulnerable families in their energy-efficiency refurbishment – ENPOR’s contribution to COP26

“You can’t fight energy poverty without fixing the housing problem!” – Tine Heyse, Mayor for Environment, Climate, Energy of the City of Ghent

Energy poverty – or vulnerability – is a critical factor for a just energy transition. It remains at high levels in Europe due to increasing energy costs and slow progress on energy efficiency improvements. While ENPOR is looking into national policies and measures that can be improved to tackle the specific issues chracteristic for the private rented sector (eg split incentive dilemma with renovation measures), municipalities face the concrete problems on the ground.

One of the main recommendations of ENPOR’s Analysis of Private Rented Sector Policies and Measures addressed the difficulties with access to funding and information, that remains an issue for both tenants and landlords, and considerations of what prevents landlords and tenants from participating in renovation and efficiency measures should also be more fully addressed. Ghent has been one of the cities in the forefront of empowering vulnerable families in their energy-efficiency refurbishment. In recent years the city has created a lot of space for initiatives coming from citizens, organizations, and companies for reducing energy consumption and making energy production more sustainable.

Tine Heyse , president of the board of Climate Alliance of European Cities and Mayor for Environment, Climate, Energy of Ghent was on site at United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC)’s #COP26 and talked about these concrete measures and the importance of expanding them to the rental sector as well, highlighting the municipalities’ sketching the municipalities’ combined strategy by also considering how to extend the following measures to the rental sector as well, where available:

– Providing energy efficiency counselling as a stepping stone towards deep renovations at vulnerable people’s homes,

– Attempting to remove financial barriers by replacing loans by subsidies with the Revolving Fund and by a second measure to help people with low income, is a system of so-called subsidy retention. In Ghent, house prices are very high. Vulnerable people who buy a house (often in very bad conditions), sometimes don’t have any money left for its renovation. That’s problematic. People are left with a house in bad conditions, without proper electricity or sanitation. For this group of people, the Municipality will provide the resources to renovate their homes. Both basic housing quality and energy efficiency are covered. This financial support will be accompanied by necessary guidance and advice provided to make the renovation a success. Citizens who receive this financial support, will have to pay back the money only in special occasions, such as by selling the house. This alleviates the burden of the citizens, and while eventually, the money will return to the city, only after a long period of time.

Download Tine Heyse speech

Download Tine Heyse presentation

The side event was streamed online via the official Youtube channel of the UN Climate Change Conference:

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C: Photo by Climate Alliance