China, EU step up to fill US climate gap
The United States is becoming isolated in its opposition to international action on climate change and other countries, especially China, are stepping up to fill the gap.
Syria now plans to join the Paris agreement on climate change, delegates at the UN climate conference in Germany said on Tuesday.
The decision follows Nicaragua signing up a fortnight ago, prompted in part by US President Donald Trump's June announcement he would seek to withdraw from the deal unless a better arrangement could be reached for America.Powerful winds raise California fire risk
Syria and Nicaragua were the only two nations left outside the 195-country deal when it was agreed in 2015.
Meanwhile, China has been stepping up its role, after its Communist Party national congress in October for the first time formally declared the country a leader in global climate action.
Greenpeace East Asia's Li Shuo said this was a significant step for a country that previously had been reluctant, especially in its approach to UN negotiations.Exiled king's remains reburied in Italy
But he said China has been working towards greater confidence in climate negotiations for some years.
"Trump's Rose Garden announcement certainly left a vacuum of leadership," he told AAP.
"But that vacuum in fact solidified other countries' commitment to Paris and has propelled China, as well as other countries, towards filling that leadership gap."Germany cuts its migration to 200,000
China has joined the European Union and Canada to establish a new ministerial forum on climate change.
Talks to establish the body started during last year's UN conference, COP22 - when it became clear Mr Trump would win the US election - and it met for the first time in September with representatives from 34 nations, including Australia.
European officials see this new group as filling the vacuum being left by the US on the world stage.Bethlehem peace light arrives in Germany
However, Mr Li said it still needed clarity around its mission.
A US delegation is attending the current climate talks and the Fijian COP23 presidency says it has been willing to engage and be constructive.
Meanwhile, environmental groups have sent a "US people's delegation" of activists to Bonn.Trump 'not considering' firing Mueller
One, the University of Minnesota's Ellen Anderson, said much could be done at state and city level to combat climate change.
"It's important for the world to know that the people of the United States are moving forward on climate leadership and clean energy, with or without the support of the federal government," Prof Anderson said.