Photographer: Ed Jones/AFP via Getty Images

North Korea, Syria and Eight Other Nations Missing From Climate Pledges

  • Venezuela leads absentees as UN talks enter second week
  • Others not pledging include Uzbekistan, Libya, North Korea

Just 10 nations are sitting on the sidelines of the United Nations effort to rein in climate change, which drew unprecedented support from world leaders last week who turned out in record numbers to get the talks going in Paris.

QuickTake Climate Change

Of the 195 countries represented at the discussions, 185 have submitted pledges. That’s a remarkable feat on its own and stands in contrast to previous UN gatherings.

“You need to take a moment to realize that that is an absolutely extraordinary number,” U.S. Special Envoy for Climate Change Todd Stern told reporters on Friday. “Virtually all the countries here have put forward their targets.”

The last time countries tried to strike a global deal was in 2009 in
Copenhagen, when the discussions collapsed in a round of finger-pointing over
who should move first on pollution. No official pledges were made before that
conference, and just 55 countries met the deadline for submissions set for
after the summit.

This time, ministers are more confident they’ll reach a deal, even though there are still holdouts. The pledges already on the table are estimated to limit the temperature increases since pre-industrial times to 2.7 degrees Celsius (4.9 degrees Fahrenheit). That’s short of the 2 degrees that envoys are targeting and the 1.5 degrees that the most vulnerable nations want -- but it’s much better than doing nothing.

According to World Resources Institute data, the 10 nations not pledging account for a little over 2 percent of global emissions.

Here are the countries which haven’t yet submitted what the UN terms Intended Nationally Determined Contributions, starting with the biggest polluter not making a pledge:


One of the blockers in Copenhagen, the South American oil exporter accounts for 0.83 percent of global greenhouse gases. Venezuelan envoy Claudia Salerno told reporters last week that the country’s pledge has been ready “for a long time,” but that Venezuela prefers to keep it up its sleeve in case the Paris deal isn’t ambitious enough.
“We will keep until the end the possibility to continue to fight INDCs as not being the perfect tool to achieve the temperature goal that we set ourselves,” she said.


The central Asian nation and former Soviet republic emits 0.5 percent of the world’s greenhouse gases.


The divided nation with Africa’s largest oil reserves accounts for 0.27 percent of world emissions. With competing eastern and western administrations, preparing an emissions pledge won’t be at the top of Libya’s priorities.

North Korea:

The hermit nation, largely isolated from the rest of the world because of its repressive regime, emits 0.18 percent of world greenhouse gases.


War-torn Syria divided into a patchwork of areas controlled by different factions, including Islamic State is another country whose political situation prevents it from paying attention to its emissions. It makes 0.15 percent of the global total.


The central American nation also stood against the deal in Copenhagen. It emits 0.09 percent of the world’s greenhouse gases. Nicaraguan envoy Paul Oquist Kelley last week compared the INDC process to a “lottery” that won’t succeed in limiting temperatures to acceptable levels. “It will take us to a 3-degree hell,” he told reporters. “Which is 4 degrees and 5 degrees in many of our countries.” He said Nicaragua won’t pledge because the whole system is distracting attention from inaction of the biggest polluters, like the U.S. and European Union.


One of Asia’s poorest nations, the country accounts for 0.08 percent of emissions.


The central American country accounts for 0.05 percent of greenhouse gases.

East Timor: 

One of the world’s newest countries after gaining independence from Indonesia in 2002, East Timor accounts for around two-thousandths of 1 percent of world emissions, according to EU data.

Saint Kitt’s & Nevis

The Caribbean island country accounts for less than a thousandth of a percent of global greenhouse gases.

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