Fuel riots: definition, evidence and policy implications for a new type of energy-related conflict
journal contributionposted on 2023-08-30, 17:42 authored by Davide Natalini, Giangiacomo Bravo, Edward Newman
‘Fuel riots’ are a distinct type of energy-related conflict. We provide the first fuel riots database and explore their social, economic and environmental drivers. The analysis demonstrates links between fuel riots and high international crude oil prices in countries characterised by weak state capacity, deficient governance, fuel scarcity and poor economic performance. We suggest a potential causal pathway for fuel riots: when international fuel prices spike, net fuel-importing countries bear higher costs. If these countries are politically unstable and their government inefficient, the likelihood of fuel riots is high. Wealthier countries can absorb price increases and maintain subsidies, as opposed to poorer societies where fuel riots are more likely. Our findings demonstrate the role of state capacity and socio-economic conditions in enabling conflict, and will inform policy by identifying fertile ground for fuel riots, i.e. societies likely to be affected by increases in fuel prices due to scarcity and climate action (such as carbon taxes). We propose that policies which better control international prices and action designed to reduce political instability in vulnerable countries are key to preventing fuel riots. Fuel subsidy reform must anticipate popular opposition and mitigate the impact upon vulnerable populations in order to reduce the likelihood of instability and minimise hardship.
Publication titleEnergy Policy
- Accepted version