Which countries have not ratified the Paris climate agreement?

More than five years after the Paris Agreement was adopted, five of 197 signatories have not formally backed the deal. Turkey is the latest country to ratify

The Eiffel Tower in Paris, illuminated in green to celebrate the entry into force of the Paris Agreement, the most ambitious climate change agreement in history, on November 4, 2016 (Photo: Jean-Baptiste Gurliat/ Mairie de Paris)

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Three large oil exporting nations are among five countries that have not yet ratified the 2015 Paris climate agreement. 

Turkey ratified the accord on 6 October 2021 after president Recep Erdoğan promised his country would do so at the UN general assembly in September.

In a declaration approved by lawmakers alongside the text of the Paris climate treaty, Turkey unilaterally declared that it would implement the accord “as a developing country” despite its developed country status in the UN climate convention.

Turkey’s ratification means the deal has been formally endorsed by 192 of 197 nations, including all G20 countries.

Iran, Iraq and Libya – all among the 14-member Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (Opec) – as well as Yemen and Eritrea have not ratified the agreement.

The US withdrew from the agreement under president Donald Trump, with effect from November 2020. His successor Joe Biden rejoined the pact on his first day in office, 20 January 2021, and formally re-entered the global treaty 30 days later.

South Sudan, the world’s newest country which is torn by conflict, ratified the deal on 23 February 2021.

Before that, Angola ratified on 12 August 2020, Kyrgyzstan on 18 February and Lebanon on 5 February.

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The five countries yet to ratify the accord account for less than 2.5% of global greenhouse gas emissions, according to the European Commission’s emissions database.

Iran (1.66%), and Iraq (0.48%) are currently the top emitters among the nations that have not yet ratified. The others represent a far smaller share of global emissions: Eritrea (0.01%), Libya (0.14%), and Yemen (0.07%).

International agreements are initially signed to signal intent to comply, but only become binding through ratification. That can take an act of parliament or some other formal acceptance. Different countries have different processes. Former US President Barack Obama used disputed executive powers to ratify the Paris accord in 2016.

Once ratified, the agreement commits governments to submit their plans to cut emissions. Ultimately they will have to do their bit to keep global temperatures well below 2C above pre-industrial times and to “pursue efforts” to limit them further to 1.5C.

“Oil has been an important factor for economic security for several of these countries,” David Waskow, of the World Resources Institute think-tank in Washington, told CHN, noting common interests of both Opec nations and the US, the world’s top oil producer.

Big emitter yet to ratify:

Iran

As a major producer of oil and natural gas exporter, Iran’s energy sector accounts for around 77% of its total emissions. Despite its fossil fuel empire, the country has developed a renewable energy industry thanks to a number of national plans and funds.

In November 2015, it pledged to reduce its emissions by 4% by 2030, compared to a business as usual scenario. Its national plan said cutting greenhouse gas emissions “will be facilitated and speeded up, only in the absence of any forms of restrictions and sanctions.”

Iran’s reluctance to ratify stems largely from its dependence on oil, complicated by the collapse of the July 2015 nuclear deal between Tehran and other major powers led by Washington.

Windmills in Manjeel, Iran (Photo: Ali Madjfar)

This article was updated on 07 October 2021 after Turkey ratified the agreement. 

Read more on: Climate politics | Paris Agreement | UN climate talks | World