Readjusting the Political Thermostat: Fuel Poverty and Human Rights in the UK

(2016) 2(2) Journal of Human Rights in the Commonwealth

18 Pages Posted: 15 Feb 2016

See all articles by Ben Christman

Ben Christman

Queen's University Belfast - School of Law

Hannah Russell

The Arab Center for Human Rights in the Golan Heights (AL-MARSAD); Independent

Date Written: February 12, 2016

Abstract

Fuel poverty − the inability to afford adequate warmth in the home − is a widespread problem across the UK. Cold, damp homes are detrimental to human health and contribute to thousands of ‘excess winter deaths’ every year. This article analyses fuel poverty from a human rights perspective – asking whether it engages human rights protections. It first discusses the definition, scale and health impacts of the problem. Second, it explores the relationship between fuel poverty and the rights contained within the European Convention on Human Rights, the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and the European Social Charter. It concludes that fuel poverty readily engages rights to adequate housing, food and health; and certain civil and political rights in extreme circumstances. It discusses the legal implications of these findings for fuel poverty policy, arguing for a ‘human rights approach’ to tackling the problem. These conclusions focus on the particularly drastic fuel poverty situation in the UK, but can also be applied globally to the various nations where citizens suffer similar problems and extend to the wider debate on the relationship between poverty and human rights.

Keywords: poverty, fuel poverty, European Convention on Human Rights, right to adequate housing, United Kingdom, energy justice

Suggested Citation

Christman, Ben and Russell, Hannah and Russell, Hannah, Readjusting the Political Thermostat: Fuel Poverty and Human Rights in the UK (February 12, 2016). (2016) 2(2) Journal of Human Rights in the Commonwealth, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2732370

Ben Christman

Queen's University Belfast - School of Law ( email )

School of Law
Belfast BT7 1NN, BT7 1NN
Ireland

Hannah Russell (Contact Author)

The Arab Center for Human Rights in the Golan Heights (AL-MARSAD) ( email )

P.O. Box 9
Majdal Shams
Golan Heights, 12438
Israel

Independent ( email )

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