Justice and Power: The Importance of Equity in the Energy Transition
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Justice and Power: The Importance of Equity in the Energy Transition

27 October 2022


The record-breaking heat wave of 2021 resulted in 700 premature deaths in British Columbia5 and burned 90% of Lytton, BC, to the ground.6 Extreme heat events in Canadian cities increase the risk of mortality between 2% to 13%.7 In the past decade, extreme weather events have doubled in frequency and costs.8 The effects of anthropogenic climate change may be experienced by anyone, but they are not. [...] The Canadian Urban Sustainability Practitioners (CUSP) define energy poverty as spending over 6% of annual income on energy costs, which is double the median household’s expenditure on energy in Canada.10 Energy poverty is the result of various interacting factors, including income, energy costs, home energy efficiency, and access to affordable energy networks. [...] Racialized households and newcomers to Canada are also disproportionately more likely to have high energy cost burdens.11 In Toronto, close to half of the people living in energy poverty are seniors, and this is likely the experience in other cities.12 Finally, energy poverty is not exclusive to low-income communities. [...] A study of this program found that not only are high-income earners the primary beneficiaries of the rebate but the costs of funding the rebate are disproportionately borne by lower-income communities paying increased costs associated with the cap and trade program.36 The design of carbon pricing regimes must consider energy poverty and income burdens to achieve equity. [...] For example, in the United States, LMI households — including renters and those in apartment buildings — account for 43% of the population and 42% of rooftops with potential for solar installation, yet they represent just 15% of solar adopters in the country.37, 381 As research suggests that both high-income and LMI households are interested in solar, the disproportionately low uptake among LMI ho.

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