During United Nations climate talks on Tuesday, Syria signed on to the Paris climate accord, bringing the total number of nations participating to 196. The only one missing: The United States.
President Trump announced in a Rose Garden speech on June 1 that he was withdrawing the U.S. from the agreement, which was intended to create a global commitment to battling rising temperatures and other effects of climate change. Trump described the agreement, which allows each country to set its own guidelines, as draconian. “I was elected to represent the citizens of Pittsburgh, not Paris,” he said at the time, drawing some analysts to wonder if Trump understood that the agreement was not about Paris but simply signed there in 2015.
Before today, Syria and Nicaragua were the only other non-participating nations. Nicaragua signed on last month after initially objecting that the agreement did not go far enough to reduce greenhouse gases.
A Syrian delegate said today that the country would send its approval of the agreement to the United Nations. “This is the very last country that actually announced, so everyone has joined and the U.S. is now so isolated,” said Safa Al Jayoussi, executive director of IndyAct, an Lebanon-based environmental organization that works with Arab countries on climate change.
White House spokeswoman Kelly Love said there had been no change in the United States’ position. “As the president previously stated, the United States is withdrawing unless we can re-enter on terms the are more favorable for our country,” the statement said.
After Trump’s Rose Garden speech, leaders of countries including Germany and France said that the pact was set and would not be re-negotiated.
“With Syria’s decision, the relentless commitment of the global community to deliver on Paris is more evident than ever,” said Paula Caballero, director of the climate change program at the World Resources Institute. “The U.S.’s stark isolation should give Trump reason to reconsider his ill-advised announcement and join the rest of the world in tackling climate change.”