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Syria Signs on to Paris Climate Agreement

Delegates participating in the World Climate Conference pass by a poster of the Fiji Islands in Bonn, Germany, Nov. 6, 2017.
Delegates participating in the World Climate Conference pass by a poster of the Fiji Islands in Bonn, Germany, Nov. 6, 2017.

Syria on Tuesday announced its intentions to sign on to the Paris Climate Agreement during talks in Bonn, Germany.

Syria's representative at the talks, M. Wadah Katmawi, said the country passed a law last month declaring its decision to join the accord.

"I'd like to assure you that the Arab Syrian Republic supports the implementation of the Paris accord in order to achieve global objectives and reflect the principles of justice and joint responsibilities that are assigned according to the capacity of each signatory," he said.

Further, Katmawi called on developed countries to "fulfill their legal and humanitarian responsibilities" in helping developing countries with technical and financial support.

"Countries that are entering a post-war recovery period, such as mine, need to be recognized as a priority when it comes to reconstruction and reorganizing climate and the environment," he said.

Until Tuesday, Syria had been the only member of the United Nations not to sign onto the accord. Nicaragua, which held out because it said the agreement didn't do enough to combat climate change, signed on last month.

US and climate pact

Numerous media reports have suggested the move by Syria would leave the United States as the only country in the world not party to the agreement, but this isn't exactly the case.

Earlier this year, U.S. President Donald Trump announced intentions to pull the U.S. out of the deal on the basis that it does not serve U.S. interests. However, the terms of the agreement clearly state that no country can formally withdraw until three years after its entry into force, which occurred on November 4, 2016.

Even then — should Trump follow through with stated plans to leave the agreement — it would still take another year to fully withdraw, which means the earliest the U.S. could officially leave the agreement is one day after the 2020 election.

The climate agreement was signed by 196 nations in 2015 with the stated goal of keeping global temperatures "well below" 2 degrees C above pre-industrial levels.

Trump has hammered the deal, saying it would cost the U.S. more than 6 million jobs and more than $3 trillion in lost GDP while boosting the economies of rival countries China and India.

In October, the Trump administration said it would withdraw "unless we can re-enter on terms that are more favorable for our country."

World leaders have signaled they are unwilling to renegotiate the deal. French President Emmanuel Macron, during his address to the U.N. General Assembly in September, said, "The door will always remain open" should Trump change his mind, but noted "we won't go back."

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