Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs
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Amanda Kennard ─ Climate Change and Political (In)Stability

Monday, March 13, 2023

12 p.m. – 1 p.m.

Birkelund Board Room, 111 Thayer Street

What are the implications of climate change for political stability? As climate change brings to bear new economic, physiological, and social pressures, we argue that citizens will tend to update negatively about their political environment. Environmental pressures shape citizen beliefs about the loyalty of political leaders; the security capacity of the state; and their ability to rely on members of their own community. Successful political mobilization –peaceful or otherwise – is in-creasing in the frequency of climate extremes. We develop a model of collective action in the presence of climate shocks and show that rational actors systemati-cally under-estimate environmental impacts, attributing observed outcomes instead to uncorrelated features of their political environment. We provide causal evidence for our claims using geocoded weather data along with a unique household-level panel survey from India. Unusually high temperatures reduce trust in leaders and police forces while increasing intra-community cooperation. Climate extremes also increase voter turnout and rates of anti-incumbent voting.

Amanda Kennard is an Assistant Professor of Political Science at Stanford University. She studies the politics of climate change and global governance, employing game theory and a range of quantitative methods. She received her Ph.D. from the Department of Politics at Princeton University, an M.S. from Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service, and a B.A. from New York University.

Security Studies Seminar

The format of the seminar is a brief (5-minute) introduction by the author, some initial comments by a lead discussant (5-10 minutes), and then open comments from attendees (remainder of time). All attendees are expected to read the paper ahead of time, as the author will not present their research. This is a working session. Email watsonevents@brown.edu to request a copy of the paper.