National Traveller MABS has joined with nine other leading Irish NGOs  from both the environmental and anti-poverty sectors are calling for a range of targeted measures to tackle both energy poverty and climate pollution while supporting households most impacted by the energy crisis. We have produced a joint statement which was presented to politicians on Wednesday 6th July in the AV room in Leinster House.
With 29% of all Irish households now estimated to be living in energy poverty, the highest recorded rate, urgent action is needed across Government in advance of the coming winter as the energy crisis continues to escalate. The 10 NGOs have jointly called for the Government to target support this winter to those most affected by rising energy costs, and to prioritise low-income households in national retrofitting efforts. They have also reiterated the need for Ireland to reduce its polluting emissions by 51% by 2030.
Key demands include:
- Government must ensure that Ireland reduces its polluting emissions by at least 51% by 2030 in a way that eliminates energy poverty and breaks our dependence on expensive fossil fuels.
- A ban on disconnections
- A windfall tax on energy companies that have seen increased profits as a result of the energy price crisis
- Double the Fuel Allowance & widen eligibility criteria#
- Increase rates of all core social welfare payments by at least €20 per week
- A requirement on energy providers to put all customers on the lowest available tariff
- Scale-up and prioritise retrofitting & solar PV on all social housing units
- Increase grants for attic & cavity wall insulation to 100% for those in or at-risk of fuel poverty.
- Introduce new retrofitting grants tailored for the private rental sector to ensure tenants are not left in cold, inefficient homes
- Ensure caravans for Traveller families are built to a residential standard in terms of heating and insulation, and are eligible for grants for solar panels.
- Ban the installation of oil and gas boilers in new homes this year, with no fossil fuel-based boilers installed in renovated buildings by 2025 at the latest.
Rose Wall, CEO of Community Law & Mediation Ireland said:
"Energy poverty is an issue that has presented to Community Law and Mediation’s free legal advice clinics, and it is of increasing concern within the communities we work with. Access to adequate levels of energy is a precondition to the realisation of many rights, impacting our lives, health and living standards. To ensure the current energy poverty crisis is effectively addressed, and does not escalate this winter, immediate resourcing is needed to protect the most vulnerable.”
Fleactha Phelan, Senior Policy Associate at the Disability Federation of Ireland said:
“The government’s own report on the extra cost of having a disability showed that disabled people spend 10% more on energy costs, are more likely to be in arrears on utility bills, and are more likely to be unable to afford to keep their home adequately warm. Many disabled people use substantially more energy, to power essential assistive technology like electric wheelchairs, hi-low beds and various machines to support breathing, for example. They have faced hugely escalating energy bills this year, while struggling to live off an inadequate social protection payment that hasn’t even kept up with inflation.“
Clare O’Connor, Energy Policy Officer at Friends of the Earth said:
“ The solution to the interconnected problems of energy affordability, supply, and pollution is the same: reduce our dependence on fossil fuels as fast as possible. We need to see a concerted emergency response from Government that prioritises home insulation and direct supports so that vulnerable Irish households are not left exposed to the crisis this winter. We need to prevent energy-poor households from being locked into fossil fuels and prioritise supports for home retrofitting and solar for those who need it most. The Government must immediately ban disconnections so no one is left in the cold. A windfall tax should also be introduced on energy companies who have profited, and this should be recycled to support people in energy poverty. ”
Nancy Power, Coordinator of National Traveller MABS said:
“In our 2019 study we found that Travellers living in mobiles are 9 times more likely to go without heat than the general population; are 14 times more likely to be unable to keep their household warm; and 77% of Travellers in mobiles were in energy poverty. The cost of living crisis has only gotten worse since then, and it is time for government to address the issue of energy poverty with measures targeting those most in need and a national energy poverty strategy is needed urgently.”
Michelle Murphy, Research & Policy Analyst at Social Justice Ireland said:
“Social Justice Ireland is calling on Government to increase all core social welfare rates by €20 per week and to make tax credits refundable. These two targeted measures would directly assist people on fixed incomes and people in low paid employment who are most impacted by rising energy costs”.
Ann-Marie O'Reilly, Policy Officer at Threshold said:
“Threshold are deeply concerned about the people living in the private rented sector who are being left behind in Ireland’s Climate Action Plan. Tailored measures, targeting landlords and private renters are needed to reduce energy poverty among private renters and ensure they live in warm, healthy and energy efficient homes. Our respective organisations have put forward a range of proposals to tackle the joint issues of energy poverty and energy pollution."
Roisin Greaney, Climate Justice Researcher at TASC said:
“The cost of living crisis is hitting the poorest in Ireland the hardest. There is a limited amount of time now before the winter months to reduce the disproportionate impact that rising energy bills are having on lower-income households while also making strides towards decarbonisaiton and cheaper energy costs through home energy upgrades”
You can read the full statement here.
The NGOs are Age Action, Community Law and Mediation, Disability Federation of Ireland, Friends of the Earth, European Anti-Poverty Network (EAPN), Irish Rural Link, National Traveller MABS, Social Justice Ireland, TASC and Threshold.