Action by Member States is essential to reach the EU climate protection targets for 2030 and 2050. Climate change mitigation plans often overlook the barriersto participation facing low-income households. A demonstration project focusing on this target group could have an important multiplier effect across the EU.
The overall objective of the LIFE - DoppelPlus project was to initiate changes in the everyday behaviour of low-income households, a target group particularly vulnerable to the consequences of climate change. By actively engaging low-income groups in climate protection, the project would also raise living standards and reduce energy bills.
Specific project actions included:
- Disseminating climate protection starter kits to low income families. The kits will include measures to save energy (e.g. LED lamp, multiple plug connector) and to reduce emissions (e.g. bike repair kit);
- Providing free advice to low income households at home about easily adaptable options for saving energy (electricity, hot water, heating), encouraging the use of public transport and consumption/purchasing/nutrition; and
- Communicating special offers, events and sponsorships organised by the project team in cooperation with electricity utility companies, transport companies and public bodies.
Over a four-and-a-half-year period, the LIFE – DoppelPlus project’s initiative has advised energy-poor households in the Austrian state of Tyrol on how to minimise energy costs and adopt a more climate-friendly approach to everyday life. The project team, for example, advised residents on energy-efficient use of electricity, hot water and heating.
More than 800 energy and climate checks were carried out. However, the project was hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic, as almost no climate and energy checks could be organised after March 2020. In addition to the energy and climate checks, stakeholders and target groups were addressed through workshops, seminars, dissemination activities and intensive media work.
A comprehensive monitoring campaign accompanied the project implementation, to measure the impact of the household consultations. The evaluation showed a significant energy saving potential of 1 700 MWh annually, and thus a CO2 reduction of 540 tonnes. At household level around 2 000 kWh per year was saved, which results in a saving of around €200 per household annually.
The LIFE – DoppelPlus project is well known in Tyrol, and it was strongly supported by the State of Tyrol. It contributed to the Austrian and Tyrolean climate targets for becoming fossil fuel free and for CO2 reductions by 2050. Due to the success of LIFE – DoppelPlus, the State of Tyrol decided to launch a follow-up project "DoppelPlus 2.0" that started after the completion of the LIFE project.
The lessons learnt from the project are that the problems of low-income residents who are affected by energy poverty can be addressed through targeted approaches. The linguistic and cultural background of householders must be considered; though the individual advice approach also offers the opportunity to resolve other housing problems at the same time, such as the mould infestation that occurs in many apartments. The approach also promotes the integration of immigrants and makes climate protection a concrete issue for all households, and therefore no longer an 'elite issue'. A more intensive cooperation with social partners, which have already a basis of trust within the target group, can lead to a higher acceptance of individual climate and energy advising. The project achieved its objectives, but its lasting positive effects can only be observed over a longer time period.
Further information on the project can be found in the project's layman report (see "Read more" section).