Syria joins Paris climate agreement, US stands alone

Washington, Nov 8 (IANS) Syria has announced it will join the Paris climate agreement, leaving the US as the only country in the world which has not signed on to the landmark deal.

Syrian officials announced their intention to ratify the accord at the UN Climate Change Conference (COP23) in Bonn, Germany, on Tuesday, CNN reported.

“This is the very last country that actually announced, so everyone has joined and the US is now so isolated,” said Safa Al Jayoussi, Executive Director of IndyAct, an environmental organisation based in Lebanon that works with Arab countries on climate change.

Syria’s Deputy Minister of Local Administration and Environment M. Wadah Katmawi said that developed countries “in their capacity as the primary contributors to climate change, should live up to their legal and humanitarian responsibility” by offering technical and financial support to developing countries to help battle climate change.

The Syria People’s Assembly voted to approve ratification of the agreement last month, according to the country’s state-run media outlet SANA.

Roua Shurbaji, a spokeswoman at the Syrian mission to the United Nations, said the country’s decision was part of an effort “to be effective in all international areas including climate change”.

“We will get there,” Shurbaji was quoted as saying by the New York Times. “We are in the process of becoming part of the agreement. We will have our commitments and targets.”

Syria, plunged in a civil war, was not present at the 2015 negotiations for the climate agreement, which is dedicated to lowering emissions and strengthening countries’ abilities to deal with the effects of climate change.

Nearly 200 countries signed on the pact at the time. Nicaragua was the only other hold-out, based on criticisms that it was “insufficient” in addressing climate change.

However, the Central American country recently announced its intent to join the agreement. In late October, Nicaraguan Vice President and First Lady Rosario Murillo said the nation had submitted a “document of adhesion” to the UN to join the pact.

Paula Caballero, Director of the climate change programme at the World Resources Institute, said: “With Syria’s decision, the relentless commitment of the global community to deliver on Paris is more evident than ever.

“The US’ stark isolation should give (US President Donald) Trump reason to reconsider his ill-advised announcement and join the rest of the world in tackling climate change.”

Trump announced in June that the US would withdraw from the climate accord, a process that will be complete in 2020. He is not invited “for the time being” to the climate change summit being hosted in December in Paris, the Elysee Palace press office told CNN.

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