Warsaw is tackling energy poverty for low-income residents through its Carbon-neutral and Affordable Retrofits for Everyone in Need (CARE) project, which aims to identify social housing and tenants that will benefit the most from improving energy efficiency.

Transitioning from coal to renewable energy is a priority for the City of Warsaw. Poland’s national government has committed to removing coal from its energy systems by 2050. However, fossil fuels reportedly deliver 85% of Poland’s energy consumption, including 45% from coal. Only 10% of Poland’s energy comes from renewable sources.

Social housing in Warsaw tends to be energy inefficient; the buildings lose heat, generally rely on coal power, and they house lower-income residents more likely to experience financial burdens. The city made some progress in this area; due to Warsaw’s anti-smog programme, around 85% of municipal buildings have replaced coal boilers with district heating, gas heating, heat pumps or electric heating sources. However, further efforts are needed to make social housing more energy efficient and reduce energy use and demand. Delaying investment in social housing risks pushing the most vulnerable in Warsaw to energy poverty while increasing the chances of subsequent health and safety issues.

Additionally, data on the housing stock’s energy efficiency and tenants’ sociodemographic and economic circumstances are inconsistent. These data are critical, as they will facilitate consultation processes and improve the effectiveness of investments in social housing renovations that seek to improve energy efficiency, such as retrofitting. Since 2021, C40 has supported Warsaw in undertaking energy audits and installing new heating units in targeted low-income homes, and developing socio-political analyses that provide the city with critical insight into the policy measures to use to better engage vulnerable tenants and give the support they need to switch to clean heating sources.

Building on this, the city will utilise the C40 Inclusive Climate Action (ICA) Cities Fund grant to kick-start the Carbon-neutral and Affordable Retrofits for Everyone in Need (CARE) project. The project will organise data around energy efficiency, classify buildings, and prioritise them according to climate and social criteria to help the city identify where renovation investments will have the best effect – both from environmental and social perspectives. CARE will bridge the gaps identified by the city’s ongoing fair energy transition and retrofitting “Stop Smog” campaign. It will create a database that will allow for accurate diagnosis of social housing residents and prioritisation of investments to maximise the benefits of renovations that improve energy efficiency.

The project will continue supporting the city’s vision of reducing energy poverty among urban dwellers, improving housing conditions, health and well-being, and ensuring cost-effective climate mitigation.

The C40 Inclusive Climate Action (ICA) Cities Fund is designed to help cities develop and implement climate projects with equity and inclusion principles at their core. As part of the 2023 programme, C40 is supporting six global cities to develop and deliver climate projects over a 12 month period that are inclusive, fair and benefit all residents. Learn more about the ICA Cities Fund.

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