A total of 192 countries have signed and ratified the Kyoto Protocol, the 1997 treaty that's the closest thing we have to a working global agreement to fight climate change. That's almost every country, state, and even one "regional economic integration organization", according to the United Nations.
The treaty may be extended at the COP17 climate talks currently taking place in Durban, so let's take a look at just a handful of the nations that have signed Kyoto:
- Every nation in the European Union
You get the picture. There are precious few things that the entire world agrees upon; the Kyoto Protocol is one of them. When India, Pakistan, China, Japan, Bosnia, Serbia, South Korea, North Korea, Turkey, Armenia, Canada, the entire European Union, along with nearly every other nation in existence, can all agree that something is a good idea, it's probably an indicator that said idea has merit. In this case, the international community has definitively consensed that fighting climate change is a worthy undertaking, and that the measures outlined in Kyoto provide a reasonable framework by which to do it.
And yet, there are outliers. Behold, the complete list of nations that have not yet signed or ratified the Kyoto Protocol:
- Southern Sudan
- The Vatican City
- The United States
Of those, Andorra and the Vatican City are considered 'observers' of the process, and were not asked to sign. The combined population of both is also, like, 52 people. Southern Sudan is the world's newest nation, and has only existed for a matter of months. That its leadership has not gotten around to signing a 1997 climate accord is understandable. It probably hasn't even filed all of its 'new nation' paperwork yet. Taiwan, as you know, suffers never-ending political complications due to omnipresent tensions with China; it is not technically its own state, and therefore, whether or not it can ratify Kyoto is a matter of contention.
That leaves the United States and Afghanistan as the two sole nations who have no excuse for not signing Kyoto. It's not like one of those countries has become an active war zone for the last decade, and ... woops. Perhaps one of the reasons Afghanistan has not yet signed Kyoto is that it has been too busy battling tribal insurgencies and getting bombed by the other non-signer.
So that leaves the United States. The biggest economy on the planet, the richest nation in history. The only country that is convinced it can afford to say 'to hell with fighting climate change' at the expense of the 192 other nations with which it shares the earth.