What is the state of the art in energy and transport poverty metrics? A critical and comprehensive review

Christopher Lowans*, Dylan Furszyfer Del Rio, Benjamin K. Sovacool, David Rooney, Aoife M. Foley

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)
140 Downloads (Pure)


This review investigates the state of the art in metrics used in energy (or fuel) and transport poverty with a view to assessing how these overlapping concepts may be unified in their measurement. Our review contributes to ongoing debates over decarbonisation, a politically sensitive and crucial aspect of the energy transition, and one that could exacerbate patterns of inequality or vulnerability. Up to 125 million people across the European Union experience the effects of energy poverty in their daily lives. A more comprehensive understanding of the breadth and depth of these conditions is therefore paramount. This review assessed 1,134 articles and critically analysed a deeper sample of 93. In terms of the use of metrics, we find that multiple indicators are better than any single metric or composite. We find work remains to be conducted in the transport poverty sphere before energy poverty metrics can be fully unified with those of transport poverty, namely the stipulation of travel standards. Without such standards, our ability to unify the metrics of both fields and potentially alleviate both conditions simultaneously is limited. The difficulties in defining necessary travel necessitate the further use of vulnerability lenses and holistic assessments focused on energy and transport services.

Original languageEnglish
Article number105360
JournalEnergy Economics
Early online date05 Jun 2021
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Mr. Christopher Lowans gratefully acknowledges support from ‘The Northern Ireland Department for the Economy.’ Dr. Aoife Foley is funded by the Collaborative REsearch of Decentralization, ElectrificatioN, Communications and Economics (CREDENCE) project, which is funded by a US-Ireland Department for the Economy (DfE) , Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) , National Science Foundation (NSF) and Research and Development Partnership Program (Centre to Centre) award (grant number USI 110 ). Dr. Aoife Foley, Dr. Dylan Furszyfer del Rio and Professor David Rooney are funded by the Bryden Centre project and are supported by the European Union‘s INTERREG VA Programme , managed by the Special EU Programmes Body (SEUPB). Professor Benjamin Sovacool and Dr. Dylan Furszyfer del Rio are supported by the UK Research and Innovation through the Centre for Research into Energy Demand Solutions, grant reference number EP/R035288/1 . The authors would like to thank the reviewers for their comments and insight.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 The Authors

Copyright 2021 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.


  • Energy
  • Energy justice
  • Fuel
  • Just transition
  • Metrics
  • Operationalise
  • Poverty

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Economics and Econometrics
  • Energy(all)


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