Now that Syria has become a signatory to the Paris Climate Agreement, the U.S. is the only country in the world not participating in the deal to combat greenhouse gas emissions.
When President Trump announced back in June that he would be pulling out of the deal, Syria an Nicaragua were the only countries that were not signatories. Nicaragua, who has since joined, only held out initially because the country’s government felt the agreement didn’t go far enough.
The agreement was signed on by the U.S. during Barack Obama’s presidency. But as The Independent points out, Obama’s executive order putting the agreement into action did not legally bind the U.S. to the treaty, leaving open the possibility of a later president to withdraw.
Domestically, the Paris withdrawal 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.
If left in place, the CPP would have reduced US power plants’ carbon emissions by 2030 to a level 32 per cent lower than they were in 2005.
The Paris withdrawal was the subject of a bitter debate within the White House. National Economic Council Director Gary Cohn, Ivanka Trump, and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson all advocated for the U.S. to remain part of the deal, but ultimately lost out to Trump’s then-chief strategist Steve Bannon and Environmental Protection Agency head Scott Pruitt.
“It would once have been unthinkable that an international agreement could prevent the United States from conducting its own domestic affairs,” Trump said during a speech in the Rose Garden after announcing the withdrawal.
For the rest of the countries still participating in the deal, the goal is to reach zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.
Featured image via Gage Skidmore (Flickr)