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Using the capability approach to evaluate energy vulnerability policies and initiatives in Victoria, Australia

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<mark>Journal publication date</mark>30/09/2021
<mark>Journal</mark>Local Environment : The International Journal of Justice and Sustainability
Issue number9
Volume26
Number of pages19
Pages (from-to)1109-1127
Publication StatusPublished
Early online date4/08/21
<mark>Original language</mark>English

Abstract

Energy vulnerability is a multi-dimensional, dynamic and context-specific phenomenon that poses a challenge for equity in energy transition policies. The Capability Approach (CA) is a normative framework focused on people’s opportunities and freedoms, used to address dimensions of social justice. Whereas the CA has been used to assess and measure conditions of poverty, exclusion and inequality, its application to evaluate policies is rare. Building on work that establishes being able to heat the home adequately as a secondary capability towards being able to lead a healthy life, this narrative review maps the conditions and processes that shape this secondary capability in Victoria, Australia. It also evaluates local policies and initiatives aimed at addressing energy vulnerability. The map identifies structural, geographical and cultural phenomena and feed-back loops and exposes a hierarchy of capabilities for vulnerable households that need to be satisfied. The policy review finds that current efforts focus on mitigating inequalities in resources with little evidence for outcomes in security or transformative agency. Future initiatives may give more attention to the satisfaction of the tertiary capability of being able to live in an energy efficient dwelling, customise solutions to the multitude and range of conditions and acknowledge the need of warmth throughout the home.