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Tijn Croon


Tijn is a PhD candidate at the Delft University of Technology, where he looks into possible tensions between the environmental sustainability and affordability of European housing, with specific emphasis on the risks for vulnerable groups. He conducts spatial and statistical analysis on large data sets and explores innovative policies through case study research. Prior to his doctoral studies he was a consultant at Springco Urban Analytics, a research and advisory firm based in Rotterdam focused on urban development, real estate, and housing. Tijn received a M.Sc. in Sustainable Cities from King's College London in 2020, where he wrote his dissertation (Best Thesis Award 2020) in the Geocomputation and Spatial Analysis research group under the supervision of Dr Jon Reades. During his Masters Tijn won the Bank of England's annual Technology Competition together with fellow students, developing an idea to digitise debt counselling. In London he also worked as a trainee at the Siemens Centre of Competence for Cities. Prior to this period Tijn received a B.A. in Political Science and M.Sc. in Political Economy from the University of Amsterdam.

Research topic

Updated sumaries

September, 11, 2023

November, 22, 2022

September, 17, 2021

The Governance of the Just Transition:

Targeting Energy Poverty across Europe


Energy price volatility is expected to remain high due to geopolitical uncertainty and the ongoing shift towards low-carbon energy generation. However, the impact of price spikes varies across society, with households having lower incomes, limited savings, and less energy-efficient homes experiencing a disproportionate burden. Energy poverty, the inability to secure sufficient domestic energy services, can have deteriorating effects on livelihoods. Consequently, addressing energy poverty has become a critical focus in policymaking and research, particularly within the context of the European Green Deal. This PhD project delves into how European policymakers can effectively target vulnerable households at risk of energy poverty to ensure that the transition towards low-carbon housing is perceived as a 'just transition.' It seeks to contribute to our understanding of 'recognitional justice' in several ways. Firstly, it highlights the added value of poverty gap indices in assessing the intensity and inequality of deprivation stemming from energy poverty. Additionally, it examines various strategies employed by government and social housing providers in France, the UK, and the Netherlands to alleviate energy poverty. Finally, it develops a multilevel governance framework that identifies and discusses the roles and responsibilities of different actors in European energy poverty alleviation. This project uses a combination of quantitative and qualitative research methods to provide a comprehensive overview of how recognitional justice can be integrated into policies across various levels of governance. Through these efforts, it aims to enhance the identification of energy poverty, improve the efficiency of alleviation policies, and bolster public accountability among the responsible stakeholders.

The Governance of Energy Poverty Alleviation:

Comparative Analyses of Targeted Policies and Strategies across Europe


Energy price volatility is likely to remain high due to geopolitical uncertainty and the transformative transition towards low-carbon generation. However, the consequences of price peaks are unevenly distributed across society as households with low incomes, little savings, and inefficient dwellings are disproportionately affected. Energy poverty – the inability to secure sufficient domestic energy services that allow for participation in society – can have deteriorating effects on their livelihoods. Therefore, energy poverty alleviation has become an important policy and research area, not least in the context of the ‘Renovation Wave’, the European transition towards low-carbon housing. This PhD project explores opportunities for European policymakers to target vulnerable households at risk of energy poverty so that the Renovation Wave is perceived as a ‘just transition’. It aims to contribute to an understanding of ‘recognitional justice’ in several ways. First, it explores the added value of the energy poverty gap in assessing the intensity and inequality of deprivation caused by energy poverty. Moreover, these dimensions are used to identify driving household, dwelling and spatial characteristics of energy poverty in the Netherlands. Subsequently, it suggests targeted interventions housing associations could implement to support those in need and assesses the target efficiency of state-level support policies in France, the UK, and the Netherlands. Finally, it develops a multilevel governance framework indicating and discussing the roles and responsibilities of actors in European energy poverty alleviation. The project uses a mix of quantitative and qualitative research methods to provide a comprehensive overview of how recognitional justice can be integrated into policies across governance levels. By doing this, it aims to enhance identification of energy poverty, efficiency of alleviation policies and public accountability of actors responsible.

The Governance of a Just Housing Transition: 

Targeting Disadvantaged Households within the European ‘Renovation Wave’


As residential energy consumption constitutes a significant share of Europe’s carbon emissions, the European Commission aims to establish a ‘Renovation Wave’ by incentivising energy efficiency measures and renewable energy sources while discouraging the usage of fossil fuels. However, even though it is generally accepted that this can lower housing expenditure in the long term, policymakers are becoming increasingly concerned about the short-term negative effects that retrofit costs and levies may have on the position of disadvantaged households. This research seeks to provide insight into the effects of sustainability incentives on their ability to afford housing and explores the embeddedness of ‘just transition’ principles within multilevel housing governance. The overarching principles of recognitional justice, procedural justice and distributional justice will be conceptually deepened and empirically assessed in different housing contexts. To that end, I first intend to determine specific vulnerabilities that arise in this transition by quantitatively assessing microdata. Identifying the characteristics of those households at risk could help to comprehend differences and subsequently design policies that accommodate specific needs. In the following phase I will focus on case studies at different levels of housing governance, looking at the application of just transition principles on different levels, but also evaluating how municipalities, housing associations and other local actors identify inequitable transition outcomes and incorporate fairness within their policies. Besides scientific publications, the project’s output will include policy recommendations with guidelines for housing governance actors to address vulnerabilities and deliver a just housing transition.


Recent activity

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Summer in the City

Posted on 13-06-2023

Last week I had the pleasure of attending the International Social Housing Festival (ISHF) in Barcelona alongside fellow network members and 2,000 (!) other participants. The event encompassed a remarkable week filled with seminars, keynote addresses, and informal discussions centred around the core themes of RE-DWELL: housing affordability and energy renovation. I would like to dedicate this blog to a particular question posed during a panel discussion I took part in, which explored the intersection between alleviating energy poverty and mitigating heat stress, as it truly sparked some thinking.   On the final day of the conference, a warm Friday on June 9th, I had the privilege of participating in an event organized by Diana Yordanova from Housing Europe. The event, titled 'Working Formulas and Question Marks for Pathways Out of Energy Poverty,' kicked off with Alice Pittini, Housing Europe's research director, sharing insightful highlights from this year's State of Housing report. Additionally, a panel discussion on effective strategies for alleviating energy poverty took place, where I joined the stage alongside esteemed experts and practitioners such as Eleni Kanellou, Anu Sarnet, Sven Van Elst, and Sergi Delgado. During the event, I had the opportunity to present some of the findings from a collaborative research paper I am currently working on with Joris Hoekstra from TU Delft and Ute Dubois from ISG Paris. Our paper focuses on how social housing organisations can effectively reduce energy poverty among their tenants.   Then, moderator Diana, posed a twofold question: "What were the most efficient measures implemented by housing organisations to shield tenants from the energy crisis during the past winter? And as the hot months lie ahead, what should social housing organisations in countries like Spain, Portugal, and Greece keep in mind as they prepare to support tenants and residents in dealing with heat stress?"   Now, while I know that the energy poverty literature increasingly looks at the lack of insulation and appliances that prevent households from cooling their homes sufficiently in summer, most of the research (including my own) currently tends to focus on the inability to heat during cold winters. However, upon reflecting on these questions, I came to realise that many measures taken by housing providers to address energy poverty in winter months would also contribute to the prevention and mitigation of heat stress.   First and foremost, it is crucial to to identify those requiring urgent assistance, specifically the most vulnerable tenants. Having a clear understanding of where to concentrate efforts, particularly during periods of crisis, is vital for short-term interventions. In another enlightening session at the ISHF, focused on climate justice in the Mediterranean, I had the privilege of listening to Eleni Myrivili, the current Chief Heat Officer of the City of Athens. She eloquently elucidated how heat exacerbates inequalities and lays bare the disparities among various socio-economic groups. This resonates with our observations during the previous winter, as the brunt of these extreme weather events is borne by (largely the same) low-income households residing in energy-inefficient dwellings. Therefore, the initial step is to identify the most vulnerable tenants. Who are they? And where do they live?   Another interesting approach that emerged during the previous winter, particularly in the United Kingdom, was the establishment of warm hubs by social housing organisations and their charitable arms. Warm hubs are essentially community centres where individuals can gather, find comfort, receive blankets, access food, and, most importantly, avoid the need to excessively heat their homes and risk high energy bills. It requires little imagination to envision that warm hubs could serve as cool hubs during heatwaves, providing air-conditioned environments to those most susceptible to heat stress.   Hence, resident engagement represents a critical aspect for both cold winters and hot summers. When executed effectively, resident engagement can significantly reduce vulnerability and foster trust between landlords and tenants. Particularly after retrofitting measures, it is essential to educate and promote sustainable behaviours. New technologies can be challenging to comprehend, especially when individuals are already facing difficult circumstances or language barriers. Improving short-term resilience is thus facilitated by fostering engagement.   And finally, when considering long-term resilience in both winter and summer seasons, it is essential to address the most decisive solution: renovation. Particularly in Mediterranean regions, where extreme heat reaches unprecedented levels, the implementation of green roofs and facades becomes crucial to alleviate such conditions. Additionally, measures such as insulation and double glazing play a pivotal role in reducing vulnerability during both winter and summer months, and their implementation can be achieved within a relatively short timeframe. Therefore, accelerating Europe’s Renovation Wave should be an absolute priority.   This introspection has pushed me to expand my thinking beyond the confines of Western European countries and delve into the diverse contexts in which housing providers operate throughout Mediterranean Europe. Moreover, it has reminded me of my master's dissertation at King's College London, written during the strange (and hot) summer of 2020 amid the Covid-19 pandemic. In that research, I examined the vulnerability of residents in the Metropolitan Region Rotterdam The Hague to heat stress, considering numerous variables (find the output below). Perhaps it’s about time for me to revisit and re-evaluate this work once again!


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Thriving Through Crises

Posted on 22-11-2022

Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Commission, used the word ‘crisis’ ten times in her latest State of the Union. As one of her distant predecessors, Jean Monnet, once said that “Europe will be forged in crises”[i], I could hardly think of a more interesting time to be seconded in Brussels. Whether crises relate to housing, climate, energy, cost-of-living, or the war in Ukraine, they necessitate representatives to go beyond their own interests and come together in a constructive matter. I greatly appreciate the opportunity to take a closer look at this political dance during my secondment at Housing Europe.   Brussels comes with a unique dialect, often ridiculed and currently under scrutiny after a study (Rauh, 2022) showed that it baffles anyone except technocrats who use it on a day-to-day basis. Frankly, I did not have a clue what a ‘trilogue meeting’ consisted of before starting here, but now I have become fascinated by this closed-door negotiation process between the European Commission, the European Parliament and the European Council (i.e. national governments). In the past few weeks, I have tried to follow talks on the Energy Performance of Buildings Directive (EPBD) revision and the Emission Trading Scheme (ETS) extension for Housing Europe.   Once you find your way through the EU’s web of acronyms, it is rather engaging to read through related documents and visit relevant events. They allow you to identify trends that will be further developed across the continent in the years after. While discussions about the promise of ‘one-stop-shops’ and ‘energy communities’ are not new, recent emphasis on these terms in European corridors suggest that a surge of policy incentives is to be expected in the near future. Another ubiquitous term, at least since last year’s surge in gas prices, lies at the heart of my research: energy poverty.   During Housing Europe’s annual Renovation Summit, held last week, energy poverty was even designated as one of the most pressing issues of our time by Alessia di Gregorio, deputy head of Social Economy at the European Commission. She urged member states to both monitor it continuously as well as address it with adequate retrofit policies. Marcos Ros Sempere, an MEP who serves as EPBD ‘shadow rapporteur’, referred to energy poverty alleviation as one of the main pillars of the Renovation Wave, emphasising the need to allocate funds to “the people who need it most”.   It strengthens me in my belief that national governments and other stakeholders (such as housing associations and energy suppliers) need to monitor which residents are most at risk. Not only because the revised Electricity Directive (Article 29 in Directive 2019/944 for EU insiders) and upcoming Social Climate Fund require them to, but because recognitional justice is a prerequisite for distributional justice. The only way to make the ‘just transition’ more than another empty shell is by identifying the disadvantaged, having them participate in the legislative process, and drafting policies that genuinely benefit their livelihoods.   [i] The original quote was "L'Europe se fera dans les crises et elle sera la somme des solutions apportées à ces crises" which would translate into "Europe will be forged in crises, and will be the sum of the solutions adopted for those crises" (Monnet, 1976).   References   Monnet, J. (1976). Mémoires. Paris: Fayard.    Rauh, C. (2022). Clear messages to the European public? The language of European Commission press releases 1985–2020. Journal of European Integration, 1-19.


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Bridging research and practice during secondment at Clarion

Posted on 08-04-2022

One of the main objectives of transdisciplinary research is the collaboration between academics and practitioners in trying to solve societal issues. This approach is particularly welcome in the field of fuel poverty[1], as the key role of housing associations generally remains overlooked while a significant share of their tenants cannot afford domestic energy services. In addition, the body of scholarship on fuel poverty measurement has grown rapidly, but its use in practice has hardly been addressed (Bouzarovski, Thomson, & Cornelis, 2021). During my secondment at the research department of Clarion, the UK’s biggest housing association, I have tried to explore and combat these mismatches.   Ever since Brenda Boardman (1991) wrote her famous work on fuel poverty, the UK has been at the forefront of the policy agenda (Middlemiss, 2017). It also has the longest tradition of relevant research with almost a third of scientific publications up to date authored by UK scholars (Xiao, Wu, Wang, & Mei, 2021). In my view, this knowledge advantage is also reflected by the fact that professionals in all walks of the organisation were fully acquainted with the term and Clarion’s predecessor Affinity Sutton had already developed its first ‘fuel poverty vulnerability indicator’ back in 2013. Together with my peers, I examined whether and, if so, how the vulnerability indicator could be aligned and adapted to the latest scientific findings, recent regulatory changes, and daily operations.   Encouraged by my supervisor Dr Elanor Warwick, I started my secondment reaching out to as many new colleagues as possible. This resulted in dozens of very engaging informal conversations that helped me a lot, not only in my investigation for Clarion, but certainly also in my wider academic exploration. I believe these practical insights will steer my research trajectory to a more impactful course. Field visits to Wisbech and Tonbridge, where Clarion’s whole house retrofits are co-financed by the Social Housing Decarbonisation Fund Demonstrator, introduced me to day-to-day operations on the ground. The measures consisted of applying triple glazing, external wall and loft insulation, as well as environmentally friendly technologies such as air source heat pumps, solar panels and centralised mechanical ventilation. Besides reduction of carbon emissions, the upgrade will save tenants between £300 and £500 on fuel bills each year (savings will be much higher with the current price peaks).   After six weeks of informal interviews with professionals about the targeting of retrofits, practical barriers in home improvement and energy advice for tenants, I felt that I reached a satisfactory degree of saturation. Gradually it had become clearer that although the vulnerability indicator was very holistic, methodologically innovative, and had provided valuable insights into the fuel poverty experienced by tenants in 2013, its use in practice was limited. In my view, there are various possible explanations for this, amongst which the following: 1.) the used formula was not exactly intuitive and understandable for the end-user, which could have impeded take-up; 2.) heavy weighting of some variables was difficult to justify due to data quality concerns; 3.) low-scale results (preferably building block level) were not easily accessible.   To improve interpretability across the organisation, I suggested to differentiate the vulnerability indicator into two different ones: one easy-to-understand binary indicator based on income and energy efficiency and thus aligned with the LILEE indicator of the Department of BEIS (2022), and one more holistic scale indicator that would also take into account socio-demographic and health characteristics. The results of the binary indicator would be suitable for monitoring and external reporting but could also inform retrofit decision-making, especially when bidding for public funding schemes. On the other hand, the scale indicator promised be an appropriate tool to flag specific households for interventions from the energy guidance team and neighbourhood response officers or for extended support during retrofit works.   To enhance reliability, I recommended the research team to include an indicative proxy question on fuel poverty in the next annual survey. During my secondment I conducted statistical analyses on data from the last conducted survey, and found that the question “How easy do you find it to keep your home at a comfortable temperature?” came closest. However, a more unequivocal alternative would be the question asked to respondents all across Europe by Eurostat (2021): “Can you afford to heat your home?” This way, the response relates directly to affordability, and cannot be interpreted differently (like the user-friendliness of the thermostat). While surveyed responses in the context of fuel poverty remain culturally biased (Thomson, Bouzarovski, & Snell, 2017), comparing the results from both indicators with the perception among those tenants would increase their validity. Together with other qualitative techniques this would also advance the understanding of lived experiences of tenants in fuel poverty.   To conclude, I think the secondment component is one of the greatest things about MSCA-ITNs, because they smoothly blend research and practice together. My future research direction has altered for the better because of my experiences at Clarion, and at the same time I have been able to share academic insights early on in my doctoral programme. Therefore, I am delighted to keep working with Clarion on these topics in the coming months and years, as I will be assisting the team in drafting an updated fuel poverty strategy and will return to London later this year for a comparative focus group study.   [1] Since the term ‘fuel poverty’ is common in the UK, I prefer to use it in this context. Across mainland Europe the term ‘energy poverty’ is increasingly used.     References   BEIS. (2022). Methodology handbook LILEE with projection. Retrieved from   Boardman, B. (1991). Fuel Poverty: From Cold Homes to Affordable Warmth. London: Pinter Pub Limited.   Bouzarovski, S., Thomson, H., & Cornelis, M. (2021). Confronting Energy Poverty in Europe: A Research and Policy Agenda. Energies, 14(4). doi:10.3390/en14040858   Eurostat. (2021). Can you afford to heat your home? [Press release]. Retrieved from   Middlemiss, L. (2017). A critical analysis of the new politics of fuel poverty in England. Critical Social Policy, 37(3), 425-443.   Thomson, H., Bouzarovski, S., & Snell, C. (2017). Rethinking the measurement of energy poverty in Europe: A critical analysis of indicators and data. Indoor Built Environ, 26(7), 879-901. doi:10.1177/1420326X17699260   Xiao, Y., Wu, H., Wang, G., & Mei, H. (2021). Mapping the Worldwide Trends on Energy Poverty Research: A Bibliometric Analysis (1999-2019). Int J Environ Res Public Health, 18(4). doi:10.3390/ijerph18041764


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Lisbon as an all-round learning experience

Posted on 29-09-2021

When trying to contemplate the first RE-DWELL workshop in the Portuguese capital, the first thing that comes to mind is that it was such an all-round learning experience. Not just because our joint programme included round-the-clock activities, but mainly because we touched upon so many different subjects, perspectives and case studies. At one moment a philosophical debate arose about flat ontologies, while seemingly the next moment the practical applicability of Building Information Modeling (BIM) would be the subject of discussion.   The more philosophical debate took place during a Roundtable - not pictured on the left, which was a leisurely lunch on our first day - with Professor Clapham (University of Glasgow), Professor Debizet (University Grenoble Alpes), Professor Petrescu (University of Sheffield) and Professor Salama (University of Strathclyde). These renowned academics gave their views on the concept of transdisciplinary research for affordable and sustainable housing, which helped us to grasp the concept even better. But besides a clarification, in a way the speakers also challenged us.   As Clapham (2018, p. 176) puts it: “there is scope to design a theory of housing that may be drawn partly from existing concepts that fit the housing context, as well as through the design of concepts that emerge from the specific nature of housing itself. Although the production of a specific, transdisciplinary theory of housing is not practicable at the current state of knowledge, it should be a major priority to derive and test out the specific concepts that are needed to build the theory.” This is where the RE-DWELL team should pick up the gauntlet, try to overcome monodisciplinary paradigms, work together to redefine key concepts interdisciplinarily and eventually build these up into universal transdisciplinary knowledge.   An important element of a transdisciplinary approach is the integration of non-academic stakeholders, and this first workshop in Lisbon immediately demonstrated how valuable this is. Field visits and guided tours make a research project come alive and inspire you in ways that scientific articles are not capable of. But first and foremost, conversations with practitioners, policymakers and in-house researchers can help ESRs to design their methodology in a way that could truly address societal challenges.   A good example is how a municipality official (affiliated with the pioneering BIP/ZIP programme) contested the notions of ‘top-down’ and ‘bottom-up’ governance, and explained by means of obvious examples how this dichotomy is not found in practice. These conversations are instrumental in transdisciplinary research and make us all look forward to our secondments even more.   Reference Clapham, D. (2018). Housing theory, housing research and housing policy. Housing, Theory and Society, 35(2), 163-177.



Case studies

Contributions to the case study library


Contributions to the vocabulary

Housing Governance

Just Transition

Area: Policy and financing

The shift from ‘government’ to ‘governance’ has been debated since the early 1970s. Whilst state interventionism had been widely embraced within western societies during the post-war decades, governments gradually moved from exercising constitutional powers to acting as facilitators and cooperative partners (Rhodes, 1997). Over the course of a few decades, this resulted in governance as ‘interactive social-political forms of governing’ (Nag, 2018, p. 124).  Hira and Cohn (2003, p. 12), influenced by Keohane (2002), define governance as “the processes and institutions, both formal and informal, that guide and restrain the collective activities of a group”. Its decentralised and flexible nature could still include public actors but would also leave space for private and third-sector parties to provide services in hybrid and temporary institutional arrangements. To formulate one single definition of ‘housing governance’ as a particular mode of governance is however difficult due to its multilevel character. Housing could relate to either a family home, a housing association, or a complete local/national housing governance framework. On a household level, Wotschack (2005, p. 2) defines governance as managing “the daily time allocation of spouses by household rules and conflict handling strategies”. The work of Wijburg (2021) indicates that local/municipal governance entails a set of public interventions, strategies, policies and provisions used to provide local needs (e.g. housing supply). On the national level, Yan et al. (2021) define public rental housing (PRH) governance as “a structure of a wide range of government and non-governmental actors that act in all its phases of PRH provision from policy design to implementation and realisation”.[1] This specific definition on PRH combines the domestic definition of governance with Wijburg’s understanding of governance on the local level. Within the Chinese context, the national government provides policies and creates nationwide operational methods, whilst local governments implement and formulate the policies locally (Yan et al., 2021). Critics point out that a more decentralised governance structure complicates the public accountability of housing provision. Peters and Pierre (2006, p. 40) distinguish problems concerning the ‘isolation’ and ‘enforcement’ of accountability. The former refers to demarcation, as it is easier to measure the performance of a government housing agency directly responsible for new build and operations, than those from the private sector in an indirect role trying to stimulate and facilitate other actors and contracting out construction and operations (Shamsul Haque, 2000). The latter relates to the accountability deficit that arises when responsibility is transferred from democratically governed municipal agencies to actors without a representative institutional arrangement, and thus without control mechanisms for tenants or the wider population (Mullins, 2006). Throughout history, understanding of governing has evolved together with the role of government. The state plays a different role in capitalism, corporatism and socialism, which has varying effects on local and/or (inter)national levels. Whilst the above paragraphs describe housing governance within a democratic governance regime, transferring the conceptual debate to autocratic or hybrid regimes would pose difficulties. Thus, finding a unique definition of housing governance applicable in all spheres remains a challenge, and the specific context must be carefully considered. Important challenges remain, and as housing provision mechanisms evolve, further exploration of housing governance, especially on a municipal level, are likely to gain importance (Hoekstra, 2020). [1] “Housing provision is a physical process of creating and transferring a dwelling to its occupiers, its subsequent use and physical reproduction and at the same time, a social process dominated by the economic interests involved” ibid.

Created on 16-02-2022

Author: T.Croon (ESR11), M.Horvat (ESR6)


Area: Policy and financing

Justice theory is as old as philosophical thought itself, but the contemporary debate often departs from the Rawlsian understanding of justice (Velasquez, Andre, Shanks, & Meyer, 1990). Rawls (1971) argued that societal harmony depends on the extent to which community members believe their political institutions treat them justly. His First Principle of ‘justice as fairness’ relates to equal provision of ‘basic liberties’ to the population. His Second Principle, later referred to as the ‘Difference Principle’, comprises unequal distribution of social and economic goods to the extent that it benefits “the least advantaged” (Rawls, 1971, p. 266).1[1] As this notion added an egalitarian perspective to Rawlsian justice theory, it turned out to be the most controversial element of his work (Estlund, 1996). The idea of a ‘just transition’ was built on these foundations by McCauley and Heffron (2018), who developed an integrated framework overarching the ‘environmental justice’, ‘climate justice’ and ‘energy justice’ scholarships. The term was first used by trade unions warning for mass redundancies in carbon-intensive industries due to climate policies (Hennebert & Bourque, 2011), but has acquired numerous interpretations since. This is because the major transition of the 21st century, the shift towards a low-carbon society, will be accompanied by large disturbances in the existing social order. In this context, a just transition would ensure equity and justice for those whose livelihoods are most affected (Newell & Mulvaney, 2013). A just transition implies that the ‘least advantaged’ in society are seen, heard, and compensated, which corresponds with three key dimensions conceptualised by Schlosberg (2004): distributive, recognitional, and procedural justice. Distributive justice corresponds with Rawls’ Difference Principle and comprehends the just allocation of burdens and benefits among stakeholders, ranging from money to risks to capabilities. Recognitional justice is both a condition of justice, as distributive injustice mainly emanates from lacking recognition of different starting positions, as well as a stand-alone component of justice, which includes culturally or symbolically rooted patterns of inequity in representation, interpretation, and communication (Young, 1990). Fraser (1997) stressed the distinction between three forms: cultural domination, nonrecognition (or ‘invisibility’), and disrespect (or ‘stereotyping’). Procedural justice emphasises the importance of engaging various stakeholders – especially the ‘least advantaged’ – in governance, as diversity of perspectives allows for equitable policymaking. Three elements are at the core of this procedural justice (Gillard, Snell, & Bevan, 2017): easily accessible processes, transparent decision-making with possibilities to contest and complete impartiality. A critique of the just transition discourse is that it preserves an underlying capitalist structure of power imbalance and inequality. Bouzarovski (2022) points to the extensive top- down nature of retrofit programmes such as the Green New Deal, and notes that this may collide with bottom-up forms of housing repair and material intervention. A consensus on the just transition mechanism without debate on its implementation could perpetuate the status quo, and thus neglect ‘diverse knowledges’, ‘plural pathways’ and the ‘inherently political nature of transformations’ (Scoones et al., 2020). However, as Healy and Barry (2017) note, understanding how just transition principles work in practice could benefit the act of ‘equality- proofing’ and ‘democracy-proofing’ decarbonisation decisions. Essentially, an ‘unjust transition’ in the context of affordable and sustainable housing would refer to low-income households in poorly insulated housing without the means or the autonomy to substantially improve energy efficiency. If fossil fuel prices – either by market forces or regulatory incentives – go up, it aggravates their already difficult financial situation and could even lead to severe health problems (Santamouris et al., 2014). At the same time, grants for renovations and home improvements are poorly targeted and often end up in the hands of higher income ‘free-riding’ households, having regressive distributional impacts across Europe (Schleich, 2019). But even when the strive towards a just transition is omnipresent, practice will come with dilemmas. Von Platten, Mangold, and Mjörnell (2020) argue for instance that while prioritising energy efficiency improvements among low-income households is a commendable policy objective, putting them on ‘the frontline’ of retrofit experiments may also burden them with start-up problems and economic risks. These challenges only accentuate that shaping a just transition is not an easy task. Therefore, both researchers and policymakers need to enhance their understanding of the social consequences that the transition towards low-carbon housing encompasses. Walker and Day (2012) applied Schlosberg’s dimensions to this context. They conclude that distributive injustice relates to inequality in terms of income, housing and pricing, recognitional justice to unidentified energy needs and vulnerabilities, and procedural injustice to inadequate access to policymaking. Ensuring that the European Renovation Wave is made into a just transition towards affordable and sustainable housing therefore requires an in-depth study into distributive, recognitional and procedural justice. Only then can those intertwining dimensions be addressed in policies.   [1] To illustrate his thesis, he introduces the ‘veil of ignorance’: what if we may redefine the social scheme, but without knowing our own place? Rawls believes that most people, whether from self-interest or not, would envision a society with political rights for all and limited economic and social inequality.  

Created on 03-06-2022

Author: T.Croon (ESR11)



The Governance of Energy Poverty Alleviation: Comparative Analyses of Targeted Policies and Strategies across Europe

Posted on 29-08-2022



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