The biggest worry for a large proportion of families and people living alone in Ireland is the cost of being able to keep their home warm during these cold winter months.
Hundreds of thousands of low-income households are spending large chunks of their income heating up houses that are poorly insulated.
The cost of heating up energy inefficient houses is not only detrimental to the health and wellbeing of people who live in them; it also results in the release of an avoidable amount of carbon dioxide (CO2), which contributes to climate change.
The household sector makes up over a quarter of Ireland’s annual carbon emissions. Recently, Ireland has committed to reducing the country’s carbon emissions by 80% (based on 1990 levels) by 2050.
With over 314,000 Irish households in fuel poverty, there is an opportunity to reduce Ireland’s annual household CO2 emissions by improving the energy efficiency of homes.
What does fuel poverty have to do with climate change?
Just like fuel poverty, climate change has the greatest impact on those who are most vulnerable to rising fuel costs and unpredictable weather patterns. This reveals the importance of these two issues being tackled in unison.
As fossil fuels are the main resource for heating homes in Ireland, the need for excess heating in energy inefficient homes leads to increased CO2 emissions, which are released through the burning of coal, oil and natural gas.
“To some, a warmer climate might seem like an opportunity to relieve the misery of fuel poverty.”
Carbon dioxide traps the sun’s heat in our atmosphere, leading to increased global temperatures. To some, a warmer climate might seem like an opportunity to relieve the misery of fuel poverty.
However, changes in the earth’s atmosphere are also contributing to unpredictable seasonal changes such as a greater influx of storms, floods and in northern latitudes, freezing winters. The only way to reduce the risk of further warming is to greatly reduce our carbon emissions.
Tackling fuel poverty and climate change together will not only will improve the health and safety of people living in Ireland, it will secure a future that is safe for generations to come.