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Climate is our Common Heritage
Not just a Concern

Why we need a critical legal innovation to save our climate.

CHH is aiming all its efforts on achieving the legal recognition of a Stable Climate as a Common Heritage of Humanity. Here is why the legal recognition of a stable climate is a game-changer in fighting climate change:

When climate change entered the UN agenda, the first question raised was: What is climate from a Legal Standpoint?  

The truth is that we can legally divide the air space and avoid, for instance, that an airplane enters our airspace, but we are not able to legally divide the chemical composition of the atmosphere, the circulation of the oceans, and the stability of the climate.

Although the original proposal in 1988 was to recognize climate as a Common Heritage, countries refused to accept the existence of a common good that spans across borders, and chose another approach: since 1992, Climate Change has been considered a Common Concern of Humankind, which is still the framework of the Paris Agreement. The fact is that a ‘concern’ means that we are worried about something, but in legal terms, until today nobody knows very well what a ‘concern’ is. We don’t know what are the rights and duties arising from that concern, and thus, we rely on the voluntary commitment of states to try to reduce environmental damage.

The main pitfall of this vague concept is that by refusing the recognition of a stable climate as a truly global common represented by international law, according to the Social-Economic sciences, we make it impossible for having in place the most basic conditions for successfully managing common goods, namely its proper definition, delimitation, and the development of a system of congruence between the rules of provision and appropriation of the common goods.

The current ‘concern’ option is ineffective and perverse, once there is not a legal framework for the provision of the global public good. In the ‘concern’ framework, avoiding and reducing emissions can be economically compensated, but harm mitigation is still a damage, thus not a benefit. Therefore, emissions must first exist for their capture to have value, while the work undertaken by the ecosystems to produce and maintain a stable climate only has economic value if someone produces these emissions and pay for them to be neutralized. Sadly, in the current ‘concern’ system, it is impossible to have what we really need: a system for governing common goods and an economy capable of actively cleaning, restoring and maintaining a stable climate for the benefit of all humankind. So far, cleaning the atmosphere for the benefit of all humanity is like cleaning in a legal void, it is cleaning something that belongs to no one, and no one will be compensated for the benefits they produced for the common good. To rethink the legal status of climate is not a theoretical discussion! It is the possibility of building a global common that spans across borders; the needed legal basis for building our common and interdependent future!

We are all part of the Earth System, on which all our lives depend.

We need your support to make this common pathway! Please, DONATE!

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