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Energy and transport poverty amidst plenty: Exploring just transition, lived experiences and policy implications in Iceland

Publikation: Bidrag til tidsskrift/Konferencebidrag i tidsskrift /Bidrag til avisTidsskriftartikelForskningpeer review


  • Paul Upham, University of Sussex, University of Groningen
  • ,
  • Benjamin K. Sovacool
  • Chukwuka G. Monyei, University of Sussex

The concept of ‘just transitions’ holds that sociotechnical change should not be achieved at the expense of vulnerable social groups. Here we take the case of a country with a high level of primary energy share that is renewable – Iceland – as well as high living standards, showing how energy and transport poverty are both possible and precariously experienced. Although Iceland performs well in OECD terms with respect to the Gini index of income inequality, poverty is nonetheless systemically present. While the percentage of the population in poverty is small, for those individuals, the experience shapes their lives. Focusing on energy and transport poverty, we draw together analysis of Statistics Iceland data; focus groups with representative members of the Icelandic public; and interviews with people self-identifying as either having a disability or experiencing poverty. We take disability as an exemplar case of a vulnerable group. While none of our interviewees had experienced loss of access to heat in the home, some had experienced deliberate disconnection by power companies. All interviewees experienced transport-related difficulties in terms of cost or access, and the focus group participants provide details on the mixed experience of the more typical Icelander via a vis transport. The Icelandic case illustrates how welfare state benefit design and the general cost of living impact individuals' lived experience of transport and energy use in the home, despite energy supply being low carbon. We discuss corresponding policy and research implications.

TidsskriftRenewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews
Antal sider16
StatusUdgivet - jul. 2022

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