Ideas to Action:

Independent research for global prosperity

Research Seminar Series (RSS)

Climate Treaties and Approaching Catastrophes

Tuesday, November 1, 2011 - 8:30am to 10:00am

Scott Barrett
Columbia University

Hosted by
David Wheeler
Center for Global Development

Scott Barrett is a leading expert on international cooperation in the fields of environmental policy and public health, and the author of two books, "Environment and Statecraft" (OUP 2003) and "Why Cooperate?" (OUP 2007).  His seminal work in the 1990s on the theory of international treaties questioned the feasibility of reaching binding international agreements on high-stakes issues such as carbon emissions control.  In this seminar, Barrett will discuss his recent work on "Climate Treaties and Approaching Catastrophes,” in which he considers whether common knowledge of an impending climate catastrophe is sufficient to overcome the obstacles to an agreement. He concludes that negotiations should focus on ways to sustain cooperation other than treaties and proposes a very different approach than the one taken so far. He also speculates on how the international system is likely to respond to the future crossing of a “climate tipping point,” a new, disturbing world situation he considers likely.

*The Massachusetts Ave. Development Seminar (MADS) is a ten year-old research seminar series that brings some of the world’s leading development scholars to discuss their new research and ideas. The presentations meet an academic standard of quality and are at times technical, but retain a focus on a mixed audience of researchers and policymakers.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011