Only global cooperation between different countries can save planet Earth. This is what a study reported, which is the result of a research process that lasted nearly two years, in which 22 prominent international researchers participated, and was published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. “The stability and wealth of nations and our civilization depend on the stability and functioning of all the fundamental elements that make up the Earth system and operate beyond national borders,” said Johan Rockström, director of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research and professor. Earth System Sciences at the University of Potsdam. “At the same time – continued Rockström – human activities are pushing more strongly towards the planetary boundaries of these vital systems.” “From the Amazon rainforest to the Greenland ice sheets, the risk of irreversible and uncontrollable changes in the functioning of the Earth system is rising sharply,” Rockstrom warned. He further stressed that “as these changes affect people around the world, the research supports the need to consider elements of the Earth system as planetary commons vested in the world and, therefore, in need of collective governance.”
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Law, policy, and Earth system scholars have made their arguments starting with the well-known idea of the global commons, but expanding them significantly to design more effective legislative responses that allow better control of biophysical systems that regulate planetary resilience beyond national borders, such as natural carbon sinks and major forest systems. “We believe that the planetary commons has the potential to articulate and create effective stewardship commitments for states around the world through Earth system governance with the goal of restoring and enhancing planetary resilience and promoting justice,” the authors said.
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“However, since these commons are often located within sovereign territories, these governance obligations must also meet some clear standards of justice,” said Joyita Gupta, a sociologist and author of the study. A global shift towards collective solutions on a global scale that transcend national borders. Global commons or public goods, such as the high seas, deep seabeds, outer space, Antarctica, and the atmosphere, are shared by all nations. They lie outside the boundaries of jurisdiction and therefore outside the scope of sovereign rights. All nations and peoples have a collective interest, especially when it comes to resource extraction, which is that they are effectively protected and conserved for the common good. Planetary commons expand the idea of global commons, adding not only globally shared geographic areas but also important biophysical systems that regulate the Earth's resilience and condition, and thus its habitability. Protecting these critical regulatory functions of the Earth system represents a challenge on a scale unique to planetary governance, characterized by the need for collective solutions on a global scale that transcend national borders. “Earth’s essential systems are now under pressure from human activities at unprecedented levels. We urgently need co-benefits for our planet, such as a new legislative and administrative approach that can more effectively protect critical regulatory functions of the Earth system.” University of Lincoln, UK, researcher at the Sustainability Research Institute at the Helmholtz Center in Potsdam and author of the paper.