The prevailing narrative influencing policymaking at EU level on energy and climate is that this transition will naturally lead to negative social impacts, which need to be managed and mitigated. However, this can and should be questioned. Is it true that the energy transition and, more specifically, building decarbonisation policies have, by default, negative social impacts? Is it true that the only strategy or solution is to mitigate them?
Alternative narratives, which highlight that there are both negative and positive implications from building decarbonisation measures, should be considered. It should be the goal of good policy design to ensure that positive impacts prevail, and ultimately it is the responsibility of policymakers to achieve this objective. Energy and climate policies, notably in the buildings sector, should aim at maximising positive social impacts and preventing negative ones, then minimising any negative impacts that are unavoidable. This discussion is crucial now, as the EU is reassessing and redesigning the architecture of its energy and climate policy framework, in a context of high energy prices and volatile markets – a context which needs special attention to respond to social impacts.
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