192 nations have signed the Paris climate agreement, a groundbreaking deal that committed almost the entire world to take steps toward saving our environment.
Barbados — responsible for 0.01% of global greenhouse gas emissions — is on board. As is Haiti (0.02%), India (4.10%), North Korea (0.23%), and Russia (7.53%).
Only two members of the United Nations have not signed: Nicaragua and Syria.
The deal was meant to lower planet-warming emissions enough to avoid breaching the 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit limit — the temperature increase that scientists consider a disastrous and irrevocable threshold for the Earth.
Nicaragua didn’t think the deal went far enough in regulating pollution.
“The government and people of Nicaragua hope that from the Paris COP21 Conference will emerge a commitment to climate justice along with an indispensable indemnification policy, converted into direct and unconditional cooperation,” Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega told the UN General Assembly, arguing that wealthier countries should pay a mandatory stipend to help poorer countries reach the climate goals.
“Those responsible for the emissions, and responsible for the climate depredation, degradation and dislocation must recognize our losses and contribute to recovery so as to reinstate the right to health and to life of our Mother Earth and of the peoples of the world.”
As for Syria? They’re in the middle of a civil war.
Now, senior White House officials say that America — the world’s largest economy, which is responsible for a staggering 17.89% of the planet’s greenhouse gas emissions (the second highest after China) — is going to join that tiny list.
Though this decision wouldn’t nullify the agreement, it would send a strong message to other countries who were initially reluctant to join.
“The actions of the United States are bound to have a ripple effect in other emerging economies that are just getting serious about climate change, such as India, the Philippines, Malaysia and Indonesia,” Michael Oppenheimer, a Princeton professor, told The New York Times.
“We will see more extreme heat, damaging storms, coastal flooding and risks to food security,” Oppenheimer went on. “And that’s not the kind of world we want to live in.”
Donald Trump, who has not made the final announcement, said he would come to a decision after his first international tour as President last week.
I will be announcing my decision on the Paris Accord over the next few days. MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 31, 2017
During his visit, many European leaders — including the Pope — urged him to stay in the deal.
Pope Francis gave President Trump a copy of his encyclical on climate change https://t.co/zl5f1L3m7X
— TIME (@TIME) May 25, 2017
Some of his own advisers are also encouraging the President to change his mind.
— The New York Times (@nytimes) May 31, 2017
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has professed his support for the deal in the past and is set to meet with Trump on Wednesday.
“It’s important that the US maintain its seat at the table,” Tillerson told the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations during his confirmation hearing on January 11.
He added that the threat of global warming is real and “requires a global response.”
“No one country is going to solve this on its own.”
Next, learn about how climate change is turning Antarctica green. Then, find out what the Trump budget has to do with thousands of wild horses getting slaughtered.