North Korea's Ministry of Foreign Affairs has condemned President Trump for pulling the United States out of the Paris agreement on climate change, dubbing it a “shortsighted and silly decision.”
In a statement published Tuesday on Pyongyang's official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) and attributed to an unidentified Foreign Ministry spokesman, the isolated country warned that “global warming is one of the gravest challenges humankind is facing today” and praised the Paris accord for its attempt to stop it.
Noting that the Trump administration had announced on June 1 that the United States would leave the landmark agreement, the unnamed official attributed the decision to Trump's “America First” policy and to ignorance “of the fact that the protection of the global environment is in their own interests.”
“This is the height of egotism and moral vacuum seeking only their own well-being at the cost of the entire planet,” the statement said.
The Paris agreement was reached in 2015 and was a signature diplomatic achievement for Trump's predecessor, President Barack Obama. More than 190 nations came together in the French capital to agree to voluntary pledges to cut greenhouse gas emissions. Only two nations didn't sign the agreement: Nicaragua, which argued that the agreement didn't go far enough, and Syria, which was in the midst of a devastating civil war.
Despite its international isolation, North Korea signed the agreement. In December 2015, then-Foreign Minister Ri Su Yong told delegates in Paris that North Korean leader Kim Jong Un had “declared war on deforestation” and that the country aimed to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by "37.4 percent compared with the levels of the 1990s.”
Experts have warned that North Korea is at significant risk of climate change-related problems. In particular, the country's chronic food shortages could be aggravated by droughts or flooding. In a report released Wednesday by the North Korea-watching website NK News, academics David Von Hippel and Peter Hayes wrote that North Korea's estimates for its greenhouse gas reductions were roughly accurate and that climate change represented a good opportunity for engagement with the international community.
The United States has long been criticized by Pyongyang's frequently bellicose official media outlets. However, during the campaign, Trump was largely spared criticism from North Korea — in one instance, a state media outlet praised him as “wise.” Since entering office, Trump has been on the receiving end of a number of insults from outlets such as KCNA.
Tuesday's Foreign Ministry statement linked Trump's “selfish” positions on climate change with the U.S. administration's stern opposition to North Korea's nuclear program. Warning of a “dangerous ideological trend” that has emerged in the United States with Trump's election, North Korea warned other nations not to follow suit.
“Whoever chooses to blindly follow the Trump administration overpowered by its bravado should be fully aware that the judgment of history shall take them all as one,” the statement said.
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