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Title: Moving from cold laws to warm homes : energy justice and the law on fuel poverty in the UK
Author: Christman, Benjamin David Gliori
ISNI:       0000 0004 6424 5410
Awarding Body: Queen's University Belfast
Current Institution: Queen's University Belfast
Date of Award: 2017
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The thesis asks three research questions: (a) How does energy justice relate to fuel poverty and what would constitute an energy just approach to fuel poverty? The thesis uses Benjamin Sovacool and Michael Dworkin’s 'energy justice framework' (EJF) to analyse the problem of fuel poverty in the UK. The EJF requires energy systems to adhere to eight principles: availability, affordability, due process, information, sustainability, intragenerational equity, intergenerational equity and responsibility. It provides a set of principles for designing an energy system which meets human needs for energy services while limiting the injustices linked to energy systems in relation to environmental degradation and human rights violations. The thesis critiques the EJF - identifying a number of problematic features of the individual principles of the EJF, and some overarching difficulties. (b) How can the UK’s legal system be utilised to tackle fuel poverty in a way which is consistent with energy justice? The EJF provides a theory which challenges the fuel poverty status quo and guides the design of a more just energy system. Using the EJF, a set of criteria are made to analyse the existing legal response to fuel poverty and guide new legislation. It proposes three objectives for designing laws to tackle fuel poverty in a way which is consistent with energy justice: (a) promote energy efficiency improvements in housing; (b) facilitate the enjoyment of free, prior and informed consent for communities subject to energy efficiency improvements, and; (c) avoid increasing the consumption of fossil fuels. (c) How is the law currently being used to tackle fuel poverty in the UK, and is it promoting energy justice? EU law recognises that fuel poverty exists across the Member States, yet it has taken little action to address it. There is no consensus as to how to define fuel poverty in the EU and the substantive obligations on Member States to tackle the problem are weak. UK law has been used in a number of different ways to tackle fuel poverty. UK law lacks ambitious energy efficiency goals, strong oversight arrangements, contains limited provisions on funding the implementation of energy efficiency goals and promotes increased fossil fuel consumption. The analysis of EU and UK fuel poverty laws shows that a number of areas require attention if the law is to be made more consistent with energy justice. It raises serious doubts about the ability of existing legal regimes to effectively address fuel poverty, and highlights their impacts on connected issues of energy justice such as public participation and the link between policies, climate change and human rights abuses. Overall, the analysis of the legal response to fuel poverty at the EU and UK levels demonstrates the need for significant reforms to drive a more robust, energy just approach to fuel poverty.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available