In Brief

Syria signs Paris accord, leaving US alone on climate change

War-torn regime to sign global warming deal, further isolating the Trump administration

Syria has announced it will sign the Paris Climate Agreement, leaving the US the only country in the world which has not signed, after Donald Trump withdrew earlier this year.

Until recently just Syria and Nicaragua had refused to join, believing the agreement did not go far enough. Now both have agreed to sign.

Almost 200 countries have now pledged to work to limit harmful greenhouse gas emissions and avert dangerous climate change by keeping global warming “well below 2 degrees Celsius”.

The US was one of the first countries to begin putting the plan into action. Former President Barack Obama bypassed Congress by signing an executive order - which made it easy for Donald Trump to withdraw from the deal in June.

Domestically, the move “appears to be part of a larger scheme to roll back Obama-era environmental regulations, including the Clean Power Plan which was supposed to be one of the main vehicles for the US to meet Paris targets”, says The Independent.

However Trump’s decision to quit the Paris Agreement despite huge opposition both at home and abroad may have inadvertently strengthened all other nations’ resolve, according to Glen Peters of the Centre for International Climate Research in Oslo.

Speaking to Bloomberg, Peters said: “This is one side benefit of the Trump thing. It plays a role in galvanising the remaining 200 or so countries. So he may actually achieve the opposite and strengthen the Paris Agreement.”

There are hopes that, given provisions aimed at cutting emissions will not take effect until 2020, the White House can still be persuaded to back the accord. Failing that, Trump may not win a second term, leaving the possibility open for his successor to rejoin the agreement once inaugurated.

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