Scott Barrett

Lenfest-Earth Institute Professor of Natural Resource Economics at Columbia University

Scott Barrett is Lenfest-Earth Institute Professor of Natural Resource Economics at Columbia University. Professor Barrett's research focuses on interactions between natural and social systems, especially at the global level. Natural systems (such as the climate or the ecology of a pathogen) tend to be unified. By contrast, the international system, comprising some 200 states, is highly fragmented. Barrett’s research focuses on the institutions that mediate between these two worlds. Examples include the Kyoto Protocol, which was intended to mitigate global climate change, and resolutions passed by the World Health Assembly, including those aimed at eradicating polio. He is probably best known for his work on international environmental agreements, for which he received the Erik Kempe Prize. His book on this subject, Environment and Statecraft: The Strategy of Environmental Treaty-Making, was published by Oxford University Press in 2003. It was published in paperback with a new afterword in 2005. His latest book, Why Cooperate? The Incentive to Supply Global Public Goods, was published by Oxford University Press in September 2007. This book examines a wide range of issues, from nuclear proliferation to infectious disease pandemics, from over-fishing to peacekeeping, from asteroid defense to big science, from the standard for determining the time to international development. His current research focuses on policies for the control of infectious diseases. He has published several articles on eradication, and is undertaking new work on drug resistance and emerging infectious diseases. He has been writing on global climate change policy since the late-1980s, and continues to be active in this area. He contributes a blog at In addition to his academic work, Professor Barrett has advised a number of international organizations, including different agencies of the United Nations, the World Bank, the OECD, the European Commission, the World Commission on the Oceans, the IUCN Commission on Environmental Law, and the International Task Force on Global Public Goods. He was a lead author of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change second assessment report. He was previously a member of the Academic Panel for the UK’s Department of Environment. He is on the advisory boards of several bodies, including the Beijer Institute of Ecological Economics, the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences; the Bren School of Environmental Science and Management, University of California, Santa Barbara; the Climate Policy Center; and the Earth & Sky radio series. He is also a member of a National Academy of Sciences committee. He is an International Research Fellow of the Kiel Institute of World Economics, an Associate Editor of Economics, a new, on-line, open access journal, and on the editorial or policy boards of other journals, including the Review of Environmental Economics and Policy and Environment and Development Economics. Before joining SAIS in 1999, Scott Barrett taught at the London Business School, where he was also Dean of the Executive MBA program. He also served previously as a Research Director as CSERGE, University College London. He spent his sabbatical in 2006 at Yale University, and in 2007 was a Visiting Scholar at the Harvard University Center for the Environment. He received his PhD in economics from the London School of Economics. His thesis was awarded the Resources for the Future Dissertation Prize.