December 16, 2017
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Syria plans to join Paris climate agreement, leaving US only nation opposed

By Alister Doyle, Reuters
Stephane Mahe | REUTERS | BDN
Stephane Mahe | REUTERS | BDN
Participants are seen in silhouette as they look at a screen showing a world map with climate anomalies during the World Climate Change Conference 2015 at Le Bourget, near Paris, France, Dec. 8, 2015.

BONN, Germany — Syria plans to join the 2015 Paris agreement for slowing global warming, isolating the United States as the only country opposed to the pact, delegates said Tuesday at U.N. climate negotiations in Germany.

Syria and Nicaragua were the only two nations outside the 195-nation pact when it was agreed in 2015, under former President Barack Obama. Nicaragua, which originally denounced the plan as too weak, signed up last month.

Syria’s delegation told a meeting of almost 200 nations on climate change in Bonn that their country, torn by civil war, would sign up for the agreement to curb rising temperatures by curbing greenhouse gas emissions, delegates said.

The move will isolate Washington.

[Susan Collins: Ignoring climate change is ‘simply not a solution’]

President Donald Trump, who has expressed doubts that man-made greenhouse gas emissions are the prime cause of global warming, announced in June that he intended to pull out and instead promote U.S. coal and oil industries.

“We need everybody on board,” Ronald Jumeau, of the Seychelles, told Reuters. “We want the United States in too. We take no pleasure in the United States being out.”

Nick Nuttall, spokesman for the U.N. Climate Change Secretariat which is organizing the meeting, said that Syria had not yet formally submitted any documents about its plan.

“Syria’s decision shows the breadth of support for the Paris agreement,” Alden Meyer, of the Union of Concerned Scientists, told Reuters of the moves by the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

Meyer said businesses, mayors, cities and other groups were also stepping up actions to limit a rise in temperatures that scientists say are stoking more downpours, heat waves and rising sea levels.

[Climate change fueling disasters, disease in ‘potentially irreversible’ ways, report warns]

David Waskow, of the World Resources Institute think-tank, noted that Trump’s climate views had previously isolated him in the Group of Seven and the Group of 20.

“Now he’ll be isolated from all nations,” he said.

The Paris agreement seeks to limit a rise in temperatures to “well below” two degrees Celsius above pre-industrial times, ideally 1.5.

The U.N.’s weather agency said on Monday that this year is on track to be the second or third warmest since records began in the 19th century, behind a record-breaking 2016.

The Bonn meeting, from Nov. 6-17, is seeking to write a detailed “rule book” for the Paris agreement, including details of how to report and check all nations’ greenhouse gas emissions.

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