Climate Action

Race to zero must not burden the most vulnerable

How can we make sure the transition to an economy based on net zero emissions is fair for everyone?One way is to listen to the people who could stand to lose out—and our partner Fair Energy Transition for All (FETA) has been doing just that.

FETA has rececently published new research based on focus group discussions involving hundreds of people in nine countries across Europe. The focus groups brought together people living on low incomes to find out their views on fairness, energy use and climate change.

The findings show that Europeans with very limited financial means are aware of the dangers of climate change and believe something needs to be done about it.But most don’t feel empowered to respond and believe it’s the responsibility of governments, business and wealthier people to find fair solutions.

Cost of living

The cost of living was also an important theme in the discussions. Many people said they try to cut energy bills to save money but, as tenants, have little scope to improve energy efficiency at home. On mobility, solutions to lower carbon emissions and expand public transport should not deepen their disadvantages.

Pascale Taminiaux, Senior project coordinator from FETA, says: “FETA will use these insights to recommend EU and national policies that can secure support across society. Notably, these policies must avoid placing a burden on the most vulnerable that would fuel opposition to efforts to protect the planet.”

Leaving no one behind

Sahba Chauhan, Programme manager from the IKEA Foundation, says: “One of our key priorities is an urgent transition to a cleaner, greener, sustainable planet. We believe this will only be possible if all people are given the opportunity to participate in the transition, and to benefit from it.

“We must protect the most vulnerable communities and help them adapt to the pace of changes around them. No one should be left behind.”

During the research project, FETA’s local partners in Belgium, Bulgaria, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, Netherlands, Poland and Spain each held up to 10 workshops. Participants came from diverse social and ethnic groups and were among the least well off. Women were in a majority; the average age and urban-rural split were in line with the EU population.