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The Spatially Varying Components of Vulnerability to Energy Poverty

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Caitlin Robinson



This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (CC BY 4.0).


A household’s vulnerability to energy poverty is socially and spatially variable. Efforts to measure energypoverty, however, have focused on narrow, expenditure-based metrics or area-based targeting. These metricsare not spatial per se, because the relative importance of drivers does not vary between neighborhoods toreflect localized challenges. Despite recent advancements in geographically weighted methodologies thathave the potential to yield important information about the sociospatial distribution of vulnerability toenergy poverty, the phenomenon has not been approached from this perspective. For a case study ofEngland, global principal component analysis (PCA) and local geographically weighted PCA (GWPCA) areapplied to a suite of neighborhood-scale vulnerability indicators. The explicit spatiality of thismethodological approach addresses a common criticism of vulnerability assessments. The global PCAreaffirms the importance of well-established vulnerabilities, including older age, disability, and energyefficiency. It also demonstrates striking new evidence of vulnerabilities among precarious and transienthouseholds that are less well understood and have become starker during austerity. In contrast, rather thanproviding a single estimate of propensity to energy poverty for neighborhoods based on a nationalunderstanding of what drives the condition, the GWPCA identifies a diverse array of vulnerability factors ofgreatest importance in different locales. These local results destabilize the geographical configurations of anurban–rural and north–south divide that typify understandings of deprivation in this context. Thegeographically weighted approach therefore draws attention to vulnerabilities often hidden in policymaking,allowing for reflection on the applicability of spatially constituted methodologies to wider social vulnerabilityassessments.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Robinson C, Lindley S, Bouzarovski S

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Annals of the American Association of Geographers

Year: 2019

Pages: Epub ahead of print

Online publication date: 25/03/2019

Acceptance date: 01/09/2018

Date deposited: 28/05/2019

ISSN (print): 0004-5608

ISSN (electronic): 1467-8306

Publisher: Routledge


DOI: 10.1080/24694452.2018.1562872


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