A recent chart was posted by the OECD (Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development) whose membership consists of 38 “high income” democratic countries. The chart lists countries around the world with a “carbon pricing instrument” for the year 2021 with the lowest (Brazil) at the top and the highest (United Kingdom) at the bottom. Canada was ranked as the sixth (6th) highest and four of the top six were European countries (Germany, France, Italy, and the UK) and the only other one in the top six slightly outranking Canada was South Korea!
The chart coincidently popped up when doing research on how countries were reporting on “energy poverty” amongst their households/populations. All energy costs have risen considerably higher than they were even a year ago as we; in the Northern Hemisphere, face the upcoming winter so we should be concerned about how those higher energy costs will affect the general population. Viewing the chart suggested a look at the six (6) countries, who have imposed the highest “carbon price”, to see what their “energy poverty” data disclosed. Data was not readily available in all cases but what was available told the story that “energy poverty” certainly affects a large percentage of the population in all six of those countries except for South Korea where no specific “energy poverty“ data could be found!
Energy poverty country by country NB:
Korea: A search demonstrated no articles or studies defining the percentage of households suffering from “energy poverty” but it is worth noting South Korea imports 95% of its energy needs so we should suspect “energy poverty” is high. Korea’s overall poverty rate is estimated to be 15.3% by Statista as of the end of 2021 so we would expect a similar percentage of their population would be at or close to that level in respect to “energy poverty”!
United Kingdom: There are many articles and research papers related to “energy poverty” in the UK and a recent report from the University of York states: “More than three-quarters of households in the UK, or 53 million people, will have been pushed into fuel poverty by January 2023, according to a new report authored by York academics.“ The article about the report goes on to note: “On 26 August Ofgem (Ofgem is the energy regulator for Great Britain) announced the energy price cap will increase to £3,549 per year from 1 October 2022. The electricity and gas price cap will rise again in January 2023. The size of the January increase has not yet been announced, but it is expected to take bills to £4,200 per year, with some sources predicting even larger increases.“ It’s worth pointing out the OECD chart claims the UK has the highest “carbon pricing instrument” which currently is 136% higher than Canada’s. With our rates scheduled to rise by $15/tonne annually it won’t be long before our rates surpass those of the UK.
Italy: The above chart indicates Italy has the second highest carbon price in the world but there seems to be relatively scarce recent information reported about “energy poverty”. One article from September 3, 2022 did disclose “One in six Italians, or up to nine million people, could sink into energy poverty due to soaring bills across the EU, Italy’s ANSA news agency reported on Saturday, citing the Italian General Confederation of Crafts.“ The foregoing suggests 15.3% of Italy’s current population will be or are now suffering from energy poverty. The article also notes: “Italy’s Ecological Transition Minister Roberto Cingolani planned to ask the entire population to turn the heating down, starting from October. Italy has already introduced some limits on the use of central heating in public buildings and apartment blocks, and these are expected to be tightened under the new measures.“ The article goes on to say: “Italy’s Serie A football league announced plans to put a four-hour limit on the use of floodlights in stadiums on match days, as part of energy-saving measures“. Does that suggest future games will be played partially in the dark or only during daylight hours?
France: France shows up on the chart as the country with the third highest carbon price and there is a fair amount of data about “energy” and “fuel poverty”! One study titled “Energy Poverty in the EU” notes “the inclusion of transportation increases the energy poverty rate in France from 18% to 21%. This is particularly relevant as CO2 prices and thus fuel prices are expected to further increase to protect the environment and combat climate change.“ The foregoing indicates as many as 14.3 million people in France are experiencing “fuel poverty” whereas another article suggests in 2019 there were 3.5 million households facing “energy poverty”. Residents per household in France is lower than most countries with only about 2.4 residents per household suggesting, at that time, about 8.4 million were experiencing “energy poverty”!
Germany: A very recent article about “energy poverty” in Germany contained the following rather disturbing statement: “One in four Germans (approximately 21 million) are currently energy impoverished, up from one in six in 2018. The poor and disenfranchised are far more likely than others to slip into energy poverty. A member of Germany’s lower-middle class is now twice as likely to fall under the “energy poor” category compared to only one year ago. The German government is scrambling to ease the pressure of increasing prices for suppliers and consumers. “ The article says Germany is doing the “scrambling” by various means such as: “One of Germany’s efforts to curb energy poverty is through reducing the use of natural gas, through both energy-saving measures and switching to different fuels. Most public buildings are lowering their thermostats, and monuments will no longer be lit at night. Heated swimming pools are banned. Germans are being encouraged to take cold showers. The government is also reducing taxes on other forms of fuel, giving discounts to people who switch to public transportation, and reopening old coal power plants.“
Canada: Once again it is difficult to locate recent reports or articles related to how many households or individuals in Canada are experiencing “energy poverty” though yours truly has tried on numerous occasions over the past many years. Natural Resources Canada published a 145 page “2021-2022 Energy Fact Book” which has one page (#37) providing a chart for 2019 suggesting “energy poverty” affected just 6% of Canadian households. The foregoing would mean 1,060,000 households and with 2.9 people per household would be, 3.1 million Canadians (8.5% of our population) who experienced “energy poverty” in 2019! One should suspect; as the data is from 2019, it came before energy prices from natural gas, electricity, furnace oil, propane, etc. jumped to current levels as pointed out in a very recent article. Amusingly the NRCan report on page 38 notes “Canada’s energy prices in 2019 are relatively low” with comparisons to [surely coincidental to the OECD chart] France, Germany, Italy, and the United Kingdom. The only outlier was the USA and the latter beats Canada except for “electricity” costs possibly due to Quebec’s low hydro prices.
It is interesting to note countries with the highest “carbon pricing instrument” in the G20 are those countries where energy poverty is the highest and Canada seems to be quickly heading in the same direction under the policies of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his minions such as Ministers, Freeland, Guilbeault and Wilkinson.
Surely with our carbon price scheduled to rise to $170/tonne by 2030 and the push to shut down fossil fuel extraction and generation it won’t be long before Canada’s “energy poverty” rates surpass those of the UK, Germany, etc. and Canada will be able to claim the title for both “highest carbon price” and for highest percentage of people living in “energy poverty”.
Quite the legacy PM Justin Trudeau will leave our children and grandchildren!
NB: The data found in some cases specifically was related to “energy poverty” but in other cases it was referenced as “fuel poverty” which presumably includes fuel travel costs in addition to energy required by households.