Camilla Houeland: "Labour Resistance Against Fossil Fuel Subsidies Reform: Neoliberal Discourses and African Realities"

In this chapter of The Palgrave Handbook of Environmental Labour Studies, Camilla Houeland analyses dominant discourses and practices of fuel subsidy reform.

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Popular and labour protests have effectively resisted fuel subsidy removals. The dominant international discourse on fossil fuel subsidies emphasises that they contribute to carbon emissions and are economically unsustainable and socially inefficient. In that light, protests appear to challenge climate change mitigation and the interests of workers and the poor themselves.

In this chapter Camilla Houeland analyses dominant discourses and practices of fuel subsidy reform. Fuel subsidy withdrawals often target consumption subsidies in the Global South as opposed to production subsidies. Trade union perspectives from Sudan, Zimbabwe, Ghana and Nigeria show how they may deepen global and social inequalities, as the poor and workers are particularly vulnerable to fuel price increases in the context of limited access to social welfare and green energy.

Furthermore, governments are not trusted to provide pro-poor welfare from savings after subsidy withdrawals. This chapter suggests that a just transition for workers needs to consider workers who depend on fossil fuel consumption in addition to those whose livelihoods depend on fossil fuel production.

Read full chapter.

Published Sep. 9, 2021 1:18 PM - Last modified Apr. 19, 2022 1:42 PM