It is often purported that unusually dry weather conditions provoke small-scale social conflict—riots—by intensifying the competition for water. The present paper explores this hypothesis, using data from Sub-Saharan Africa. We rely on monthly data at the cell level (0.5×0.5 degrees), an approach that is tailored to the short-lived and local nature of the phenomenon. Using a drought index to proxy for weather shocks, we find that a one-standard-deviation fall in the index (signaling drier conditions) raises the likelihood of riots in a given cell and month by 8.3%.

We investigate the effect of domestic politics on international environmental policy by incorporating into a classic stage game of coalition formation the phenomenon of lobbying by special-interest groups. In doing so, we contribute to the theory of international environmental agreements, which has overwhelmingly assumed that governments make decisions based on a single set of public-interest motivations. Our results suggest that lobbying on emissions may affect the size of the stable coalition in counterintuitive ways.