The Department of State issued a withering and blunt critique Wednesday of Syria’s decision to join the Paris agreement more than a year after its initial draft.
“If the government of Syria cared so much about what was put in the air, then it wouldn’t be gassing its own people,” State spokeswoman Heather Nauert said about allegations that the war-torn country used sarin gas to put down rebel uprisings.
Syria has been bogged down in a vicious civil war since 2011 and is subject to European and American sanctions after President Bashar al-Assad reportedly used chemical weapons on rebel fighters. Reports from earlier this year show that he lodged sarin attacks on Khan Sheikhoun, which killed more than 80 people.
The delegates did not explain why the country switched positions. Syria contributes a tiny fraction of carbon emissions to the climate. Activists appear to indicate that U.N. leaders instigated the move to exert more pressure on the U.S.
Nauert made her comments after a Syrian delegate at a climate panel in Germany announced that the Middle Eastern country is preparing to send its ratification to the United Nations. Syria joins Nicaragua as the last few stragglers to join the 200-nation deal.
The U.S. intends to leave the non-binding agreement within the next three years. President Donald Trump believes the Obama administration poorly negotiated the deal.
A Trump adviser took part in a pro-coal presentation during the so-called COP23 conference, even as participants at the conference call it “beyond absurd” to champion fossil fuels at an event designed to brainstorm solutions to climate change.
“It is undeniable that fossil fuels will be used for the foreseeable future, and it is in everyone’s interest that they be efficient and clean,” a White House spokesman told reporters Monday, referring to Trump’s efforts to promote fossil fuels at the G20 meeting this year.
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