Brussels, 29 March 2023 – A policy dialogue held in the European Parliament today explored the nexus of energy poverty, gender and health in the Mediterranean. Frequent and more severe heat waves due to climate change reveals summertime energy poverty as an urgent factor, with demonstrated negative impacts on human health. Partners of EmpowerMed, an EU-funded project aimed at empowering women to take action against energy poverty in the Mediterranean, presented key policy recommendations on how to tackle summertime energy poverty along with gender and health issues.

In the coastal areas of Mediterranean countries, the challenge of energy poverty is linked to heatwaves, unsuitable dwellings, precarious jobs and clash with tourist demand for housing. Therefore, a strongly cross-sectoral approach to tackling energy poverty is needed, recognising that drivers of energy poverty are deeply structural – they span far beyond the triad of “low income – poor energy efficiency – high expenditure”, which is traditionally considered to set the context to addressing energy poverty.

Energy poverty does not only mean suffering from the cold but also enduring the heat. Summertime energy poverty hits disproportionately the most vulnerable and is highly likely to rise in the future, especially in areas subject to the urban ‘heat island’ effect. This means we need to pay more attention to summertime energy poverty.

Women and women-led households are disproportionately affected by energy poverty. Yet, women are crucial actors in tackling energy poverty, hence their engagement in acting against energy poverty is of utmost importance. We need to raise awareness about gender and intersectional aspects of energy poverty by collecting sex-disaggregated data and engendering energy poverty indicators.

impacts on people’s health. Health effects associated with energy poverty include anxiety, stress and depression but also increased physical problems and greater mortality rate. More research on the connection between energy poverty and health is needed.

‘In order to address these challenges, H2020 project EmpowerMed tackles energy poverty in the coastal areas of Mediterranean countries, with a particular focus on women. After empowering over 4000 households affected by energy poverty, the project is now opening a policy dialogue with national and European decision-makers on how to align policies and measures to tackle energy poverty, improve health of people and provide a stronger support for women.

More information:

EmpowerMed policy recommendations are available here:

EmpowerMed’s recommendations for gender-just policies to reduce energy poverty, with focus on the Renewable Energy Directive (RED) and the Energy Efficiency Directive (EED), are available here:

Report on the situations of households affected by energy poverty that participated in practical actions of the EmpowerMed project in the different pilot regions in the Mediterranean.

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