America First clearly means America alone: It is now officially the only country in the world to not sign onto the Paris agreement. Rather remarkably, Syria – which is currently the most violent place on Earth – has just announced at the COP23 climate summit in Bonn that they will sign on the dotted line.
“As if it wasn’t already crystal clear, every single other country in the world is moving forward together to tackle the climate crisis, while Donald Trump has isolated the United States on the world stage in an embarrassing and dangerous position,” Sierra Club Executive Director Michael Brune told reporters.
“With Syria on board, now the entire world is resolutely committed to advancing climate action – all save one country,” a statement from the World Resources Institute noted.
“This should make the Trump administration pause and reflect on their ill-advised announcement about withdrawing from the Paris Agreement.”
This really is a remarkable piece of news. Syria is currently involved in a horrific civil war, one with many players and many sides and no end in sight. Although it doesn’t have a significant carbon footprint compared to many other countries, the fact that it has taken the time to join the pact is a reminder that the White House’s position on the accords, and on climate science in general, is ludicrous.
Remember, even North Korea is part of the Paris agreement. Nicaragua, who for some time refused to sign because the agreement didn’t go far enough to tackle climate change, joined the rest of the planet last month partly in response to America’s abdication of responsibility.
The Trump administration, meanwhile, is sending a delegation to the summit in Bonn that will genuinely attempt to portray coal as a “solution” to climate change. To the rest of the planet – every single country, now – this is nothing less than an absurdist farce.
No other nation on Earth is institutionalizing climate change denial. No other country is ignoring their scientists or refusing to see the writing on the wall. Every single state on Earth is helping to push back against dangerous climate change.
Yes, Syria, North Korea, Nicaragua and plenty of signatories have comparatively insignificant greenhouse gas emissions. Their cooperation will, on a practical level, make little difference to the fate of the planet.
However, their participation holds enormous symbolic and political power – it clearly shows that they want to be part of the global community, and to do whatever they can to help out.
By declaring his intention to withdraw from the pact, Trump has effectively isolated America and weakened its global standing. Syria’s signature compounds this further.