With the leaders of both Nicaragua and Syria’s recently adding their signatures on the Paris climate agreement of 2015, America is now the only nation out.

Syria — which is still embroiled in a bloody civil war — was the last country to sign the agreement after Nicaragua’s recent signature just prior to the ongoing UN climate change talks in Bonn, Germany, according to The Guardian. While Syria’s signature as seen as largely symbolic, given the country’s lack of a CO2 footprint, UN leaders in Bonn nonetheless extolled Syria for joining the agreement.

The fact that the United States has initiated withdrawal proceedings from the Paris climate agreement alarmed the international community, as the agreement will likely not work if the U.S. doesn’t participate. According to figures from the Union of Concerned Scientists, the U.S. is the second-largest emitter in the world of carbon dioxide emissions (behind China), which become trapped in the atmosphere and channel a higher concentration of heat from the sun. Excess carbon dioxide leads to melting ice caps, rising sea levels, and the erratic weather patterns associated with climate change.

Paris climate agreeement
The world’s ten largest emitters of carbon dioxide (chart by Union of Concerned Scientists)

The Paris climate agreement calls on all countries to do everything in their power to stop global temperatures from rising more than two degrees Celsius, which climate scientists say is a crucial threshold to prevent climate change from causing catastrophic damage and becoming irreversible.

Although President Donald Trump made a spectacle of pulling out of the agreement in June, saying he wanted to negotiate “a deal that’s fair,” Former President Barack Obama’s signature to the agreement in 2015 means the U.S. can’t technically withdraw until 2020 — ominously, the day after the next presidential election.

 

Scott Alden is a freelance contributor covering national politics, education, and environmental issues. He is a proud Toledo University graduate, and lives in the suburbs of Detroit.

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