Activists Ecstatic After War-Torn Syria Joins Paris Climate Deal

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Syrian officials’ decision Tuesday to join the Paris agreement along with Nicaragua leaves the U.S. the only country planning to stay out of the non-binding climate pact.

A Syrian delegate at climate talks in Bonn, Germany announced the Arabic country is preparing to send its ratification to the United Nations. Syria joins Nicaragua as the last few stragglers to join the 200-nation deal.

“This is the very last country that actually announced, so everyone has joined, and the U.S. is now isolated,” Safa Al Jayoussi, the executive director of an organization based in Lebanon that works on climate change issues, told reporters Tuesday.

The White House remained steadfast on President Donald Trump’s decision in January to jettison the non-binding climate agreement. The U.S. cannot officially leave the deal until 2020.

“As the president previously stated, the United States is withdrawing unless we can re-enter on terms that are more favorable for our country,” White House spokeswoman Kelly Love reiterated in a statement to reporters Tuesday.

President Barack Obama joined the Paris Agreement in 2016 without Senate approval, pledging to cut U.S. greenhouse gas emissions 26 to 28 percent below 2005 levels by 2025.

Trump promised to “cancel” the Paris Agreement during his presidential campaign, but his own White House was split on the issue. He has already issued executive orders to roll back Obama-era global warming regulations.

The Trump administration claims the poorly-negotiated deal does not put American workers first. Countries aligned with the pact have tried to place pressure on Trump ever since.

Syria has been bogged down in a vicious civil war since 2011 – the country is also subject to European and American sanctions after President Bashar al-Assad reportedly used chemical weapons on rebel fighters.

The delegates did not explain why the country switched positions. Syria contributes a tiny fraction of carbon emissions to the climate. Activists appear to indicate U.N. leaders instigated the move to exert more pressure on the U.S.

“The U.S.’ stark isolation should give Trump reason to reconsider his ill-advised announcement and join the rest of the world in tackling climate change,” said Paula Caballero, the director at environmental program at the World Resources Institute.

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