Green Cities

Teamwork Will Make the Dream Work: Sustainable Development, Accountability and the 2014 Lima Accord

The average global temperature has been constantly rising, having seen a 3.6 degree increase in the last year, and finally moves are being made in order to hold every country on our planet accountable for global warming. The Lima Accord, which was agreed upon this past December will require all countries, whether they be developed, emerging economies or developing, to create a domestic plan which enhances current efforts to counteract climate change—and it is due at the end of this month. The plan that each country develops is essentially meant to be a pledge that is made to the rest of the United Nations to reduce CO2emissions in both the short and long term as a lead up to the International Conference on Environment and Climate Change in Paris next year.  The passage of this accord took 36 hours of negotiations in order to get passed, which resulted in the accord featuring very loose language and no consequence if a country does not comply with the stipulations set forth by the Lima Accord. There are varying views on what the effectiveness of such a plan will be. Given that the Lima Accord relies essentially on peer pressure and international condemnation for success, people are beginning to doubt how effective the plan will be since many skeptics believe that without incentives, countries will not change their actions drastically enough to make an impact on the current state of climate change. This is the first time that an agreement holds all countries accountable for their carbon emissions, with past agreements giving developing countries a pardon due to their volatile economic states. If developing countries were to actually create plans to cut CO2 emissions, these plans would have to be rooted in sustainable development—including measure to both cut domestic CO2 emissions and improve the overall economic state. Some are already calling on the developed world to invest in greener, more cost-efficient technologies and then share those technologies with the developing countries of the world in order to avoid the learning curve which created our current state of global warming through events such as the industrial revolution. Teamwork will be crucial for the agreements of the Lima Accord to hold up against their lack of a system of accountability. If investment in these greener technologies is taken on by developed countries as part of their emissions cutting pledge and they also commit to help developing countries in their quest to move towards being greener economies, the Lima Accord has the potential to become an extremely beneficial piece of legislation. Actions such as this will increase the accountability of countries to each other which will make the idea of ‘peer pressure’ as a reason to participate in the stipulations set forth by the Lima Accord a valid one. The agreements made at the Lima Accord are very important to us at Earth Day Network given our theme for Earth Day this year, It’s Our Turn to Lead. This theme is based in the idea of how we, as a global community, can come together to push for our leaders to create change that moves the development actions in the world towards creating a more sustainable future. The Lima Accord is one step to Paris that has just made our goal much more attainable. So, while our governments are putting together plans to decrease our impact as a country on climate change, we need to stand up and take on actions both big and small to do our part. Reach out to your local government or even start a recycling system in your home or work place. Each action that we take will help our governments reach the goals of their Lima Accord pledges and will create positive change in the current state of global warming.   Victoria Miller, Intern