Poverty impacts people’s choices and opportunities and can perpetuate a disadvantaged status. Poverty remains a prevalent global issue due to disproportionate wealth distribution, which often translates to inequality in energy consumption and emissions. This research investigates if low-income households and minorities from four countries with very different national cultures, contexts, and levels of wealth experience a ‘double energy vulnerability’, a concept that simultaneously positions people at heightened risk of transport and energy poverty. Our research identifies that low-income households and minorities are at higher risk of simultaneously experiencing energy and transport poverty regardless of the national context in which they live. Our study also contests the achievement of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030, showing that even in relatively wealthy countries, many individuals still face energy and transport poverty. We conclude that global sustainable development requires significant shifts in policy action, resource distribution and investment in social services.