what we do
The mission of the Common Home of Humanity (CHH) is to contribute to achieve the legal definition and recognition of a Stable Climate as a Global Common that spans across borders as the structural basis for building a regenerative economy and a new global governance system for Humanity.
This legal recognition requires a Critical Legal Innovation capable of legally representing a well-functioning Earth-System that corresponds to a Stable Climate as an Intangible Common Heritage of Humankind.
A Stable Climate as an Intangible Common Heritage of Humankind can become a new object of International Law that spans across borders, the basis around which the relations of interdependence that emerge from the shared use of a unique and highly interconnected Earth System (our truly Global Common) can be organized at a global scale, producing cascading effects on health, economy, social justice, and international relations.
WHAT IS COMMON HOME
CHH is a novel initiative conceived in 2016 in recognition of the enormous governance challenge that global interdependence poses to human societies in their efforts to ensure a sustainable future for humankind.
Within a truly global, inter-, and trans-disciplinary effort, CHH works to build a global transformative movement to create the needed structural conditions for a collective action from our civilization to restore and maintain the patterns of stable and predictable dynamics of the Earth System, which correspond to a Stable Climate and a resilient, well-functioning biosphere.
What we want
The ways matter and energy move around the planet, creating various patterns of atmospheric and oceanic circulation at the planetary scale, follow the laws of thermodynamics and result in a Stable Climate. The patterns that correspond to a stable global climate is something that can only be legally classified as an intangible natural good. These circulation patterns and the global climate system are “nature’s software”, our most valuable asset. This truly intangible Common Good that spans across borders can be renewed and maintained, if we manage to turn visible the work of the biosphere in society and the economy.
CHH strives to create the needed structural conditions to allow for a collective action aiming to stabilize climate. The most basic needed structural condition is the recognition and acceptance of the intangible software that corresponds to a Stable Climate as a Global Common Good. Today, we have all the necessary tools to achieve this. We already have an adequate legal regime available for recognizing a non-territorial Common Good that spans across borders, with intangible characteristics - the Common Heritage of Humankind. We also have the scientific tools to define this Common Good and to operationalize its management - The Safe Operating Space for Humanity, as well as the economic knowledge to establish the Common Good as a positive communal resource that can be harnessed for the well-being of humanity. A Stable Climate as an Intangible Common Heritage can be defined as an object of common governance and humanity can finally build one economy able to restore and ensure the future maintenance of the Common Good Stable Climate.
VISION OF THE COMMON HOME OF HUMANITY
To build a human organisation around the permanent maintenance of the Intangible Global Common that spans across borders, where human societies are able to restore and permanently maintain the favorable biogeophysical conditions of a well-functioning Earth System that corresponds to a Stable Climate. To reach this goal we must embark on the civilizational journey from Explorers and Exploiters to Guardians and Managers of our intangible Common Home.
Why it matters
“Currently, the Earth System is on a Hothouse Earth pathway driven by human emissions of greenhouse gases and biosphere degradation toward a planetary threshold at ∼2 °C, beyond which the system follows an essentially irreversible pathway driven by intrinsic biogeophysical feedbacks, (…) and raising the temperature further in a domino-like cascade that could take the Earth System to even higher temperatures. (…) This analyses implies that, even if the Paris Agreement target of a 1.5 °C to 2.0 °C rise in temperature is met, we cannot exclude the risk that a cascade of feedbacks could push the Earth System irreversibly onto a “Hothouse Earth” pathway. The challenge that humanity faces is to create a “Stabilized Earth” pathway that steers the Earth System away from its current trajectory toward the threshold beyond which is a Hothouse Earth .
The Stabilized Earth Pathway that we urgently need requires deliberate human action to create feedbacks that keep the Earth System on a Stabilized pathway. The human stewardship to restore and maintain a Stable Climate implies an economy of restoring and permanently caring for a well-functioning Earth System. This is only possible if the most basic requirement that makes possible any human enterprise is in place: an appropriate legal framework.
In the real world, a Stable Climate is a Common Good not only considering a legal perspective, for being materially and legally indivisible, but also from an economic perspective, for being limited, exhaustible, and rival in consumption, thus should be managed as a Common Good. Climate is not only public in consumption, but also public in provision. A correctly operating planetary system with a Stable Climate, although intangible, is our most outstanding Global Common. The first step to allow for the restoration and future maintenance of this outstanding vital Common Good is the recognition from human societies of the existence of the Common Good itself. This means to recognize the existence of the Stable Climate not only from a scientific point of view but also from legal standpoint, as a legal object: A Common Heritage of Humankind.
 Steffen, W. et. Al. (2018) Trajectories of the Earth System in the Anthropocene - Edited by William C. Clark, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA, and approved July 6, 2018 (received for review June 19)
How change can happen
To have any chance of being successful in stabilizing climate, we need not only to reduce emissions but also to deliberately remove CO2 from the atmosphere and actively perform a large-scale restoration of ecosystems. And if we succeed, the restoration and maintenance of ecosystems will need to be performed permanently in the future. These actions require large investments and dedicated work sustained over a long period of time. However, we currently lack economic mechanisms to compensate for active climate restoration. Instead, current climate “action” is mostly consisted of attempts to mitigate or neutralize emissions.
A wider conversation on a new global agreement for the environment is now taking place and a high-level Declaration is expected to be released during the landmark 50th anniversary of the United Nations Conference on the Human Environment of Stockholm 1972 – Stockholm+50, in June 2022.
As the window of opportunity for avoiding dangerous climate change is rapidly closing and scientists are warning about a planetary tipping point that could lie just ahead, an initiative towards a Global Pact for the Environment can be our last opportunity to approach a Stable Climate as a Common Good and create a conceptual evolution in International Environmental Law.
The Global Pact is a unique opportunity to address the Earth System as a single whole in which climate change, biodiversity crises and global pandemics are all interconnected. This should become the transformative process that drives a paradigm shift in International Environmental Law towards a comprehensive system of Earth System law. It should create a new conceptual basis for a constructive approach to restore the Earth System’s functioning and stabilize climate, enabling governments to embark on a scientifically informed path to build a successful governance model.
How we work
CHH is advocating for the legal recognition of the pattern of stable and predictable dynamics of the Earth System that corresponds to a Stable Climate and a resilient, well-functioning biosphere, as a Common Heritage of Humankind. Therefore, CHH is building a strong global coalition of leading Earth System and sustainability scientists, legal experts, socio-economists, sovereign states, NGOs, international organizations, local authorities, local communities, indigenous peoples, individuals, academia, and other stakeholders. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, and join our movement!
CHH is based at the Centre for Legal and Economic Research (CIJE) of University of Porto, and headquartered at the Geophysical Institute of University of Porto, in Gaia, as part of the ongoing research project "Common Home of Humanity: a legal construction based on knowledge".
The different CHH Governing bodies provide strategic guidance and oversee CHH’s activities. CHH is currently supported by the Portuguese Ministry of Environment as well as the Municipalities of Porto and Gaia.
CHH was created in Portugal, at the University of Porto (Centre for Legal and Economic Research (CIJE), with the support of the Faculty of Sciences, in partnership with:
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