In the global push to lowering our carbon emissions by transitioning to renewable energy production and improving energy efficiency epitomised in the Paris Agreement in 2015, the importance of housing tenure to the adoption of low carbon living, particularly for those on lower incomes, is often not fully appreciated. Lower-income households are more likely to be renters on social benefits, and have limited ability to afford either the normally higher priced energy efficient appliances or access renewables due to the problem of split incentives. In an environment of escalating energy costs, this can lead to energy deprivation, compromising social, physical and mental health and wellbeing.
Through a mixed-method approach involving focus group discussions with lower-income households, interviews with stakeholders, and workshops with policymakers and support services, this paper focuses on recent findings from an Australia-based research project on the barriers that lower-income households faced in transitioning to low carbon living. It especially highlights the challenges – financially, mentally, and most of all structurally – private and social renters face in living out their support for a low carbon future. While the adverse outcomes of energy deprivation are similar to those experienced in other countries, tenure was noted as a significant contributor to these challenges and presented a number of barriers to the implementation of efficiency upgrades and other low carbon measures.
This paper reports on tenure’s role in lower-income households’ experiences of energy deprivation and provides policy potentials in overcoming them.
Tenure as barrier to low carbon living (56519 DOCX)