Syria has now joined the Paris climate accord, leaving the United States as the last nation on Earth left out of the landmark agreement after Nicaragua announced plans to sign on last month. Syria announced plans to do so on Tuesday, at a United Nations COP23 climate meeting in Germany, according to Fiona Harvey of the Guardian.
“I confirm that the Syrian Arab Republic supports the implementation of Paris climate change accord, in order to achieve the desired global goals and to reflect the principles of justice and shared responsibility, but in accordance with the capabilities of each of the signatories,” said the nation’s Deputy Minister of Local Administration and Environment, M. Wadah Katmawi.
Katmawi added that developed counties “in their capacity as the primary contributors to climate change, should live up to their legal and humanitarian responsibility,” according to CNN.
The agreement is the first at the UN in two decades to set limits on carbon emissions and temperature increases for both richer and still developing nations. With the addition of Syria, 197 nations have agreed to its terms.
Donald Trump started the process of the US withdrawal over the summer. Technically, however, the US will remain signed on to the accord until November 4th, 2020, according to UN rules on backing out of the agreement. The administration has said it will abide by this procedure.
“Syria’s participation puts an exclamation point on the fact that the U.S. actions are contrary to the political actions, and the sincerely held beliefs, of every other country on the face of the Earth,” according Princeton geosciences professor and UN climate observer Michael Oppenheimer, speaking to Robinson Meyer of the Atlantic.
The US is the world’s largest economy, with the world’s second highest level of carbon emissions. Its 2015 emissions totaled 5.1 kilotons of carbon dioxide, greater than the emissions of the entire European Union, which includes 28 nations.
Due to an ongoing civil war Syria did not attend the 2015 negotiations at which the agreement was first laid out. Last month, the nation’s state-run media announced that the Syria People’s Assembly had voted to ratify the agreement.
The nation has not yet submitted a plan for reducing the emissions of greenhouse gases, as is required by the agreement.
Under the rules of the agreement, the US can still opt to remain in the accord anytime until the 2020 withdrawal. According to polls by Yale university, 7 out of 10 Americans want to remain in the agreement.