Impoverished SE Europeans turn to wood for heating

Published: 03 June 2010 | Updated: 04 June 2010

Rising electricity prices are increasing the use of wood for heating in South Eastern Europe to alarming levels, posing a serious threat to health and the environment, experts warned.

Governments in South East Europe are largely unable to address the problem of energy poverty, understood as the incapacity of people to heat their own homes, warned Stefan Bouzarovski, a lecturer in human geography at the University of Birmingham in the UK.

Speaking on 1 June at a conference hosted by IFRI, the French Institute for International Relations, Bouzarovski said that district heating systems inherited from the communist era were “not the solution” for heating households in the region.

At the same time, as power prices soared and salaries stagnated, the use of wood for heating has increasingly become an alternative to electricity, he said. The situation might worsen as the price per kilowatt/hour is expected to increase across the region, he warned.

Bouzarovski said little had changed since the United Nations published a report entitled ‘Stuck in the Past: Energy, Environment and Poverty in Serbia and Montenegro’.

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