Nicaragua was one of the final holdouts on signing the Paris Agreement on climate change, but after seeing other countries deal with devastating natural disasters, the country is joining the deal.
That leaves the United States and Syria as the only countries not participating. Under the Trump administration, the U.S. vowed to pull out earlier this year after Obama signed the climate agreement in 2015. Syria rejected it outright.
Nicaragua hadn’t signed before because its leaders thought the deal didn’t go far enough to fight climate change. On Monday, the Latin American country announced it was signing to support other nations vulnerable to the effects of climate change, like sea level rise and coastal flooding.
Many noticed that Nicaraguan president Daniel Ortega said in an announcement that his country was joining in solidarity with countries reeling from the destruction of natural disasters.
“The main reason” Nicaragua is joining: “Solidarity with the countries most vulnerable to the impact of natural disasters.”
— Emily Atkin (@emorwee) September 20, 2017
Recent hurricanes battering the Caribbean and U.S. come to mind. Climate studies indicate that hurricane impacts, including storm surge flooding and heavy rainfall, are already worsening due to human-caused global warming.
As the world continues to warm, hurricanes are expected to contain stronger winds as well, and may be more prone to periods of rapid intensification. So far this season, the U.S. has been hit by three Category 4 hurricanes, which is unprecedented since reliable records began in the late 19th century.
The World Resource Institute’s climate program global director Paula Caballero said we should be celebrating that Nicaragua is on board. In a phone call she said it sends a “powerful message for the two countries” refusing to get involved. Though Syria is dealing with a long, devastating military conflict, so climate treaties aren’t a top priority right now.
She acknowledged Nicaragua has been “committed to tackling climate change” and already working on lowering its dependence on carbon. By signing the agreement, she said the country can only improve its climate impact and economy.
Now let’s see if Donald Trump notices that the only other country not part of the deal is in the middle of a civil war.
Andrew Freedman contributed reporting.