Today’s news is as embarrassing as it is dangerous.
Syria announced during United Nations climate talks on Tuesday that it would sign the Paris agreement on climate change. The move, which comes on the heels of Nicaragua signing the accord last month, will leave the United States as the only country that has rejected the global pact.
According to several people who were in a plenary session at the climate talks in Bonn, Germany, a Syrian delegate announced that the country was poised to send its ratification of the Paris agreement to the United Nations.
In case anyone needs a refresher, it was just two years ago when representatives of 195 countries met in Paris and reached a historic international agreement to combat the climate crisis. Only two countries – Syria and Nicaragua – rejected the accord. At the time, Nicaragua insisted the agreement didn’t go far enough, while Syria, in the midst of a devastating civil war, didn’t participate in the talks, in large part because of sanctions imposed on the Assad government.
Over the summer, Donald Trump announced that the United States, which used to try to lead internationally on climate, was withdrawing from the accord, joining Syria and Nicaragua.
But two weeks ago, Nicaragua announced its support for the Paris climate policy, and today Syria has reportedly done the same. The resulting dynamic is extraordinary: literally every country on the planet supports the agreement, except us, thanks to Donald Trump.
As we discussed last month, at least in theory, according to Trump, the White House wants to begin a new round of negotiations on a climate agreement, but in the nearly five months since the president’s withdrawal announcement, there’s no evidence that any such efforts have been made.
On the contrary, Trump’s EPA chief, Scott Pruitt, argued over the summer that our allies in Europe only want the United States to participate in the Paris accord “because they know it will continue to shackle our economy.”
The president himself made a related point: “Foreign lobbyists wished to keep our magnificent country tied up and bound down by this agreement.”
In other words, the Trump administration is operating from the assumption that our allies are trying to deliberately hurt us through an international agreement to combat the climate crisis.
We’ve isolated ourselves internationally in a way that hardly seemed possible a year ago. History’s judgment is going to be severe.