Energy transitions towards sustainability are driven by the need to reduce the environmental impacts of energy consumption, namely those related to carbon emissions. However, it is feared that a large scale deployment of low-carbon solutions that disregards pre-existing socio-economic and material inequalities may result in transitions deepening disparities or creating new energy-related vulnerabilities. Such prospect is particularly worrying as tens of millions of EU households are currently experiencing energy poverty, i.e. they are unable to access socially- and materially-necessitated levels of domestic energy services. Against this background TRANSFAIR aims to identify, conceptualise and empirically substantiate the ways in which the EU’s “transition to a low-carbon, secure and competitive economy” may (or not) be reproducing and reinforcing current energy vulnerability trends in Member States. To this end the research will combine the political ecology and environmental justice frameworks with transitions theory and multi-level governance perspective, conduct a critical, integrative review of scientific and policy literature and carry out an empirically-based examination of two complementary case studies: renewable electricity cooperatives in Spain and advanced thermal retrofits of multi-family buildings in Hungary.
The experienced researcher Dr Sergio Tirado Herrero will carry out the research in an internationally renowned political ecology and environmental justice research centre – the Institute of Environmental Sciences and Technologies (ICTA) of Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona (UAB) – under the supervision of Prof Giorgos Kallis, TRANSFAIR will equip the experienced researcher with advanced qualitative data collection and analysis skills and further his understanding of new theoretical frameworks. It will also help him develop other transferable skills through a secondment in the Spanish renewable electricity cooperative ‘Som Energia’.
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