The InventAir roundtable for the energy poverty and air pollution was held in Sofia, BG, during the Smart Cities Expo.
On April 17th 2019, Energy Agency of Plovdiv organised a roundtable and expert discussion over the Challenges of energy poverty and its link to the use of wood and coal for residential heating during the Smart Cities Expo in Sofia, Bulgaria.
The event was attended by representatives of executive agencies to the Ministries of Energy, Environment, and Social Policy, NGOs, associations of ecologists and energy agencies. During the roundtable four presentations were held – on national and municipal policies, the InventAir methodology, the positive energy poverty campaigning , and on a training platform for energy poverty professionals that is being developed.
There were two dicussion panels. The discussion that followed the first two presentations focused on the role of the Ministry of Labour and Social Policy and their note that there isn’t energy poverty definition and it is a good idea to have a broad national definition with local operationalisations that correspond to the local situation – climate, economic, social, etc. Flexibility is much needed. Everybody agreed that the local authorities may be very flexible when applying such policies and as long as they have the proper national funding they could facilitate energy poverty campaigning and improve the control over the residential burning. However, more transfer of knowledge is need for the good practices how to establish such a campaign.
The discussion over the second part of presentations focused on the lack of capacity of the authorities to arrange energy poverty campaigns – for example, the Agency for Social Support can make social estimations if households can or cannot afford goods, products and/or services, but cannot perform energy estimations. This has to be done with the support of other public bodies - the Ministry of Energy, for example. Another major point made was about the Winter Supplement programme which provides funding to households to build heating fuels, but so does not change their energy behavior or incentivize positive change. It does not bring any energy or financial savings as well and sustains the market realization of harmful heating fuels. A possible approach may be to split part of the funding and appoint to energy poverty campaigns with major aim to achieve reductions, but this has to be done on political level.