Thermal comfort and cooling strategies in the Brazilian Amazon. An assessment of the concept of fuel poverty in tropical climates.

25 February 2020

Energy Policy

Antonella Mazzone,available online 25 February 2020

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Fuel poverty has increasingly been associated with thermal discomfort, health related issues and winter deaths in the Global North because it can force families to choose between food and a warmer environment. Juxtaposing the concept of fuel poverty in rural tropical areas of the Global South, it is likely that a similar pattern between fuel poverty and heat related illnesses can be found. A recent study shows that between 1.8 and 4.1 billion people, especially in India, Southeast Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa will need indoor cooling to avoid heat related health issues. This paper aims to address a blind spot in the literature on the links between fuel poverty, thermal comfort and cooling strategies in the Brazilian Amazon.

This study draws from current definitions and indicators of fuel poverty in the Global North and juxtaposes it in the context of tropical areas to understand how fuel poverty affects human health, livelihood strategies and social justice in rural communities that live in hot climates. To do so, this paper uses qualitative methods and a conceptual framework to guide the analysis. The author calls the intersection between vernacular architecture and sustainable cooling practices ‘energy relief’.