Some recent papers

with Astrid Dannenberg, "Tipping versus Cooperating to Supply a Public Good," Journal of the European Economics Association, 2017 (FREE ACCESS).


"Coordination vs. Voluntarism and Enforcement in Sustaining International Environmental Cooperation," Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 113(51): 14515-14522, 2016.


with Astrid Dannenberg, "An Experimental Investigation into 'Pledge and Review' in Climate Negotiations," Climatic Change 138(1): 339-351, 2016. 


with Marten Scheffer and others, "Creating a Safe Operating Space for Iconic Ecosystems, Science 347 (6228): 1317-1319, 2015.


"Solar Geoengineering’s Brave New World: Thoughts on the Governance of An Unprecedented Technology," Review of Environmental Economics and Policy, 8(2): 249-269, 2014.


with Astrid Dannenberg, "Sensitivity of Collective Action to Uncertainty about Climate Tipping Points," Nature Climate Change, 4: 36-39, 2014.


"Climate Treaties and Approaching Catastrophes," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, 66(2): 235-250, 2013.


“Economic Considerations for the Eradication Endgame,“ Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B, 368: 2012149, 2013.



Environment & Statecraft: The Strategy of Environmental Treaty-Making

Published by Oxford University Press in 2003; in paperback, with a new afterword, in 2005..
Published by Oxford University Press in 2003; in paperback, with a new afterword, in 2005..



This book develops a theory of how states can address transnational and global environmental challenges. This is essentially  a theory of treaty design. How can a treaty manipulate incentives to cause countries to behave in a way that makes all states better off?


The book uses game theory to explain when treaties are needed, why some work better than others, and how treaty design can be improved. The theory integrates other disciplines, including economics, international relations, and international law. The essential assumption is that treaties must be self-enforcing--that is, individually rational, collectively rational, and fair.


The book applies the theory to a number of environmental problems, ranging from ozone depletion to whaling, from pollution of rivers to acid rain, from overfishing to pollution of the oceans, from biodiversity conservation to climate change mitigation.


Summary of the book in the Economics Focus section of The Economist, 17 April 2003.



“Every now and again, a treatise appears that alters the way we see events in an important way. Scott Barrett’s Environment and Statecraft is one of those works.... probably one of the most important publications in the last few decades in the context of the increasingly  important arena of global environmental problems. ”

Times Higher Education Supplement


“...destined to become a landmark in the pursuit of knowledge regarding the determinants of success and failure in efforts to solve large scale environmental problems through sustained cooperation.”

Global Environmental Politics


“A truly important contribution to the literature on international environmental cooperation.”

Journal of Institutional and Theoretical Economics


“Barrett traces with skill and insight the policy challenges facing international lawmakers.”

American Journal of International Law


“a significant contribution to the analysis of treaty commitments among states....”

Foreign Affairs


“Barrett’s lucidity and analysis of international environmental cooperation and treaty-making make this book one of the most significant in its field in recent years. It should be staple reading for all international environmental scholars and policy-makers.”

Review of European Community 


International Environmental Law


“ impressive book that should be of interest not only to those interested in the application of game theory to international relations but also to anyone interested in understanding how international cooperation can be promoted.

Environmental Conservation


This is a learned book; well-written, theoretically precise, rich in anecdotal details, and student friendly for both economics majors and noneconomists. The writing throughout is crisp and rigorous.... I recommend this book to anyone interested in the political economy of environmental policy."

American Journal of Agricultural Economics


"....recommended to anyone interested in understanding how international cooperation can be promoted."

Review of International Relations and Development


“ ingenious theory of how nation states may be able to overcome dilemmas and protect transboundary environmental resources. Any theory that successfully helps to explain international agreements regarding biodiversity, the ozone layer, global climate as well as diverse fisheries is a powerful theory.”

Elinor Ostrom, recipient of the 2009 Nobel Memorial Prize

in Economic Sciences 


“Barrett’s mastery of incentive theory makes a lot of puzzling issues clear. From fur seals to ozone to carbon dioxide he has a theoretical framework that makes impressive sense.”

Thomas C. Schelling, recipient of the 2005 Nobel Memorial

Prize in Economic Sciences