Only other UN members not party to Paris agreement never signed up, but for reasons of war and principle, not disbelief
June 1, 2017 — Donald Trump’s decision to pull out of the Paris agreement on climate change means the US joins only two other countries not signed up to the historic accord.
The only other UN members not signed up are Nicaragua and Syria, which both chose not to enter into the climate accord in the first place.
Their reasons for doing so were very different from those that seem to be influencing Donald Trump, who has previously described climate change as a hoax.
Nicaragua declined to sign up because it thought the accord did not go far enough. In November 2015, Paul Oquist, Nicaragua’s lead envoy to the Paris negotiations, told Climate Home: “We’re not going to submit because voluntary responsibility is a path to failure. We don’t want to be an accomplice to taking the world to 3 to 4 degrees and the death and destruction that represents.”
The Bonn-based UN climate body has requested all countries in a position to do so to submit “intended nationally determined contributions” to international efforts to hold warming to 2°C.
The following month, Oquist told Democracy Now: “Universal responsibility – everyone is responsible – is a spin on historical responsibility, because everyone didn’t create this problem.”
Nicaragua’s share of global emissions (0.03%) pales beside that of the US (13.19%), yet it came fourth on a list of countries most affected by climate change between 1996 and 2015, according to the Global Climate Risk Index.
For its part, Syria has been mired in a civil war since 2011. The government of Bashar al-Assad has been heavily sanctioned by the UN over human rights violations, making it a pariah to much of the international community.
The sanctions would have made it difficult for members of the Syrian government to travel to Paris to attend the discussions, and the ongoing conflict would have made it difficult for it to commit to any limitation of the country’s emissions.
Nevertheless, other countries in the midst of conflict have signed up, including Yemen, as well other countries isolated by the international community, such as North Korea. Syria’s share of global emissions is also low compared with the US, at 0.14%.