Syria embraces Paris climate deal, leaving US as only country to disavow the deal
By BRADY DENNIS | The Washington Post | Published: November 7, 2017
At an international climate conference in Bonn, Germany, on Tuesday, Syria announced its plans to join the Paris climate accord - an agreement forged in 2015 for nations to ban together to slash global carbon emissions.
That now leaves the United States as the only country to disavow the deal, after President Donald Trump this year announced intentions to withdraw from the agreement.
According to news reports and people who were present Tuesday, the Syrian delegation to the talks announced the war-torn country's intention to ratify the Paris agreement. Separately, according to the Syrian Arab News Agency, lawmakers in Damascus last month "approved a draft law on ratifying Syria's accession to the Paris Climate Agreement."
The move comes after the only other remaining holdout, Nicaragua, announced its plans to join the Paris agreement in September. Nicaragua initially had refused to join the agreement in 2015 because its leaders felt the accord did not go far enough in compelling nations to reduce their carbon emissions. But in joining the deal this fall, the country's president noted that it is the "only instrument we have" to unite the world around the goal of staving off the most catastrophic effects of global warming.
Syria's decision to join the accord brought another round of rebukes for the Trump administration.
"As if it wasn't already crystal clear, every single other country in the world is moving forward together to tackle the climate crisis, while Donald Trump's has isolated the United States on the world stage in an embarrassing and dangerous position," Michael Brune, executive director of the Sierra Club, said in a statement.
In June, Trump announced his intention to withdraw the United States from the landmark Paris climate agreement, an extraordinary move that baffled American allies and threatened to undermine global efforts to slow the warming of the Earth's atmosphere.
Trump's decision drew swift, sharp condemnation from foreign leaders, environmental groups and corporate titans, who argued that the U.S. exit from the Paris accord would represent a failure of American leadership in the face of irrefutable scientific evidence.
Trump, who has labeled climate change a "hoax" and appointed climate change skeptics to top administration posts, argued the Paris agreement and Obama-era regulations to curb emissions were crippling businesses and killing jobs.
"I was elected to represent the citizens of Pittsburgh, not Paris," Trump proclaimed at the time. He added that he would consider rejoining the deal if the United States could reenter on more favorable terms. Other countries rejected that notion, saying individual countries already have the freedom to alter their pledges to reduce emissions.
The U.S. withdrawal from the Paris agreement cannot actually be finalized until near the end of Trump's term, due to the legal structure and language of the accord.
But with the world's second-largest emitter of greenhouse gases essentially walking away from the pact, scientists and policymakers have said it would be nearly impossible for the world to realize its goal of limiting global warming to below a 2-degree Celsius (3.6-degree Fahrenheit) rise above preindustrial temperatures.
The withdrawal also marked a staggering reversal from the previous administration. President Barack Obama considered the accord a signature and critical diplomatic achievement, and during his second term made it a top priority to convince other world leaders to embrace the deal.
The Post's Chris Mooney contributed to this report.