Syria seeks to join Paris climate agreement

BONN • Syria told the United Nations (UN) climate talks in Bonn on Tuesday that it would join the Paris Agreement, leaving the United States as the only nation in the world opting to stay outside the landmark treaty.

"We are going to join the Paris Agreement," the Syrian delegate, speaking in Arabic, said during a plenary session at the 196-nation talks, according to Ms Safa Al Jayoussi of the non-governmental organisation IndyAct, who was monitoring the session.

The US ratified the 2015 pact but President Donald Trump announced earlier this year that he would pull out, saying the pact did not serve US interests.

"It is our understanding that the government of Syria announced today their intent to join the Paris Agreement," said the UN climate body spokesman Nick Nuttall. Syria must submit its "instruments of ratification" at the UN headquarters in New York before its adherence becomes official, he added.

According to the Syrian Parliament website, a Bill was passed on Oct 22 to ratify the Paris accord "in accordance with the Syrian Constitution which stipulates the protection of the environment".

Other parties at the 12-day negotiations, tasked with elaborating and implementing the agreement, welcomed the news. "Syria joining the Paris Agreement will be a good thing," South Africa's chief negotiator Maesela Kekana said.

War-torn Syria would be the 197th country to sign on to the climate pact.

The US mocked Syria's arrival in the climate change agreement on Tuesday, sidestepping the charge that it has isolated itself by being the world's sole holdout.

"I find it ironic that the government of Syria, OK, would say that it wants to be involved, and that it cares so much about climate and things like CO2 gas," State Department spokesman Heather Nauert said.

"If the government of Syria cared so much about what was put in the air, then it wouldn't be gassing its own people," she added, referring to the Damascus regime's brutal civil war tactics.

"When even Syria - with all its problems - can see the sense of a global climate agreement, it really shows how ideologically wedded to climate denialism the US Republican Party has become," said Mr Mohamed Adow, International Climate Lead for Christian Aid.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 09, 2017, with the headline 'Syria seeks to join Paris climate agreement'. Print Edition | Subscribe