Europe's Green Deal: Is the middle class left behind?




Residential, energy consumption, human development, HDI, Fit for 55, Energy Poverty, Social Climate Fund, energy wellbeing


Ensuring the well-being of EU citizens requires a broader awareness of the implications of reducing fossil fuel use. This article identifies the plight of households unable to improve their well-being without increasing the consumption of fossil fuels. Decoupling household well-being from energy consumption requires refining current EU policies in the Fit for 55 policy package. The EU's Social Climate Fund contains €87 billion collected from a carbon tax on petrol, diesel, and heating. However, as this article shows, human well-being in some EU Member States will decrease in social groups not deemed vulnerable. Changes in household energy use in the EU have a direct (not only indirect) impact on Human Development Index (HDI) measures; any increase or decrease in energy is immediately reflected in human well-being. Tackling energy poverty is a fundamental issue, but in this case at least the bottom two-thirds of the middle class (which roughly represents the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th quintiles) also need support. Not addressing this funding gap could amplify anti-European voices, increasing the sense of social injustice and exclusion.


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Author Biographies

Michael Carnegie LaBelle, Central European University

associate professor, Department of Environmental Sciences and Policy. 

Tekla Szép, University of Miskolc

PhD, associate professor, Institute of World and Regional Economics, Faculty of Economics


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2023-10-24 — Updated on 2022-12-23


How to Cite

LaBelle, M. ., & Szép, T. (2022). Europe’s Green Deal: Is the middle class left behind?. Journal of Public Governance, 61(3). (Original work published October 24, 2023)