Lancaster research included in President Biden’s Annual Economic Report

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Research by a Lancaster academic has been included within the Annual Report of the Chief Economic Advisers, published by the White House.

The 2023 Economic Report of the President, openly published last month, begins with a reflection by President Biden about his Administration’s economic accomplishments, and outlines future opportunities and challenges.

Research co-authored by Lancaster University Management School’s Dr Jean-Francois Maystadt is cited within the important document, which serves to outline the economic progress made by the Administration, and sets out a case for the President’s domestic and international economic policies.

Dr Maystadt, a development economist, is an expert in the study of conflicts, natural disasters and forced migration. His research that caught the attention of the Chief Economic Advisers for the United States was co-authored in 2019 and published in the prestigious journal, Nature, and explores climate change as a risk factor for armed conflict.

The study, co-authored by Dr Maystadt, gathered 11 experts from varying disciplines (economics, environmental sciences, geography, political sciences) who had individually reached different conclusions on the risk between climate and conflict. Despite their different backgrounds, climate was unanimously recognised by all experts as having affected organised armed conflict.

They found that across all experts, best estimates are that 3-20% of conflict risk over the last century has been influenced by climate variability or change. Despite large uncertainty in making predictions about the future, it was also recognised that in a scenario of 4 degree Celsius of warming, the risk would increase fivefold, leaping to a 26 percent change of a substantial increase in conflict risk. Even in a scenario of 2 degree Celsius of warming (the goal as stated in the Paris Climate Agreement) the influence of climate on conflicts would more than double, rising to a 13 percent change.

Dr Maystadt said: “It is great to see our research being shared at the highest possible levels amongst policymakers. Our study puts a spotlight on the urgency of climate action for global security, and I hope our findings are useful and serve as a wake-up call.

“Our study finds that while there is strong consensus that changes to our climate will increase future risk of conflict around the world, it is also recognised to have affected organised armed conflict in recent decades. However, there is also wide acknowledgement that other drivers, like low socioeconomic development, low state capacity, intergroup inequality, and a recent history of violent conflict, have a heavier impact on conflict within countries.”

Prof Claire Leitch, Executive Dean of Lancaster University Management School (LUMS), said: “What makes me particularly proud to lead LUMS is our community of scholars who dedicate themselves to producing world-renowned research that is not just designed to be published in top journals, but genuinely helps tackle some of the world’s biggest problems.

“Dr Maystadt’s research has not only been seen by America’s Chief Economic Advisers but is being used to steer economic policy of the future. A truly fantastic achievement.”

‘Climate as a risk factor for armed conflict’ is published in Nature, and available here:

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