Representatives from about 200 nations made a historic pact on December 12, 2015 to cut down on fossil fuels and cope with the unavoidable consequences of climate change, but now it’s Planet Earth versus the United States. When Donald Trump announced that the United States would withdraw from the Paris Accord, the global community assumed that it would join the two other countries that hadn’t signed it either, Syria and Nicaragua. That is not the case anymore.
Nicaragua had not signed the agreement, claiming that the plans were “insufficient” in dealing with climate change. However, the country has had a change of heart and submitted a “document of adhesion” to the U.N., joining the pact. “It is the only instrument we have in the world that allows us to unify intentions and efforts to face climate change and natural disasters,” said Rosario Murillo, the Vice President and First Lady of Nicaragua.
Syria was going through a Civil War and couldn’t make it to the 2015 conference. Now that the war has ended, they have time to move forward. “I confirm that the Syrian Arab Republic supports the implementation of Paris climate change accord, in order to achieve the desired global goals and to reflect the principles of justice and shared responsibility…” said M. Wadah Katmawi, the Deputy Minister of Local Administration and Environment in Syria. He also added that developed countries, “in their capacity as the primary contributors to climate change, should live up to their legal and humanitarian responsibility” by offering technical and financial support to developing countries to help battle climate change.
Not everyone is buying it. Critics say that Syria is simply seeking international legitimacy. A writer at the Federalist, says that “Signing the accord gives [Syria] the opportunity to leave the United States out in the cold and relish a moment of fictional moral superiority against the country that’s supposed to be a global leader in all things. Assad gets to look, ever so briefly, like a more enlightened man than Donald Trump.” Others say that Syria’s signing was a distraction for the civil war they are fighting currently. Liam Keetley, a sophomore at our school, says that “Syria has a bit of a notorious reputation for gassing rebels and innocents while fighting their civil war… By signing the Paris Agreement, they’re diverting attention away from their war and more towards the global front.”
Why did Trump choose to withdraw from the agreement? He said that the unrealistic goals of the Paris Accord limit the economic capabilities of the United States and even take away jobs, while experts that fact-checked Trump’s statement said otherwise. According to a new report from the U.S. Department of Energy, solar power employed 43% of the Electric Power Generation sector’s workforce in 2016, while fossil fuels combined accounted for just 22%. Just under 374,000 people were employed in solar energy, according to the report, while coal, gas and oil power generation combined had a workforce of slightly more than 187,000. Despite all of this data, Trump withdrew from the Accord, saying that the United States will leave the Accord and renegotiate a better deal; however, the heads of state of several European countries, including France, Germany, and Italy, have stated in a joint statement that withdrawal is not possible and “very regrettable.”
Also, Trump is not invited “for the time being” to the climate change summit being hosted in December at Paris. Invitations are being sent first to countries that are “very active and particularly engaged” in climate change and will then extend an invitation to whoever the US government chooses to represent them. Emmanuel Macron, the French President, has been on multiple phone calls with Trump, trying to convince him to stay in the Paris Accord. “Because wherever we live,” he said, “whoever we are, we all share the same responsibility: Make our planet great again.”