SYRIA cemented the United States in its position as the world’s climate pariah yesterday, at last signing up to the Paris agreement on cutting greenhouse gas emissions.
Syria and Nicaragua were the only countries not to sign the deal two years ago — Nicaragua because it felt the agreement was far too timid to avert catastrophic levels of global warming, and Syria because its government was in disarray amid a civil war fuelled by foreign countries, including the US.
Syria announced at the COP23 conference in Bonn yesterday that it would sign up to the agreement.
Nicaragua did so last month, with Vice-President Rosaria Murillo calling the Paris deal “the only instrument we have in the world that allows the unity of intentions and efforts to face up to climate change and natural disasters” despite its limitations.
That leaves the US as the only country outside it after President Donald Trump’s June announcement that he would withdraw from the agreement — though US diplomats insist they will take part in climate discussions.
Though the US did originally sign up in 2015, the country and the corporations based there have long been at the forefront of efforts to stall action to limit human-caused warming.
However, the Paris deal itself falls well short of the action needed to avert disastrous climate change. It depends on voluntary emissions cuts by signatory states and its unmet pledges put the world on track for 2.8°C of warming by 2100, while existing policies would lift temperatures by 3.6°C.
The world is already at 1°C of warming above pre-industrial levels, and the Paris deal has a dual target of 1.5°C and 2°C. The latter would produce significantly more extreme weather, including devastating droughts and floods, and submerge many island nations.