Climate change and fuel poverty


The research examined the possible effects of rapid climate change on fuel poverty (needing to spend more than 10% of income to maintain a satisfactory level of warmth and other energy services in the home). One particular concern was the prospect that there might be a shutting off of the Gulf Stream, which warms Britain and the rest of north-western Europe. Computer simulations of the climate indicate that shutting down the Gulf Stream would cool England by about 3°C. Climate is not the only variable that will affect future levels of fuel poverty. The other main ones are what will happen to the energy efficiency of the building stock, to incomes and to energy prices. The aim of the project was to examine what might happen to each of these four dimensions and construct three scenarios in each dimension (most likely, high and low) to capture the range of variation in possible outcomes. A total of 81 (3x3x3x3) scenarios were modelled and analysed. Since any changes in the climate system take decades to play out, but it is extremely difficult to predict social, economic and technological changes even 25 years in the future, it was decided to set an objective for this research of looking forward to 2030.

Research Discussion Paper 24

Dresner, S., Ekins, P. (2004) Climate change and fuel poverty, Research Discussion Paper 24, Policy Studies Institute, London

Read the paper