Story highlights

Poorer countries like North Korea will be hardest hit by climate change

Pyongyang previously declared "war on deforestation"

CNN  — 

US President Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw from the Paris climate agreement has been criticized by major global powers from Europe to South America.

Now North Korea is getting in on the act.

In a statement Tuesday, Pyongyang said Washington’s move represented “the height of egoism and moral vacuum seeking only their own well-being, even at the cost of the entire planet.”

“The selfish act of the US does not only have grave consequences for the international efforts to protect the environment, but poses great danger to other areas as well,” a spokesman for the North Korean Ministry of Foreign Affairs said, according to state news agency KCNA.

KCNA regularly issues caustic missives on all aspects of US policy. In Tuesday’s statement, Pyongyang also linked Washington’s climate policy to its “unreasonable and reckless” actions against North Korea’s nuclear program.

North Koreans walk past the Juche Tower in Pyongyang. The country has criticized Trump's decision to withdraw from the Paris climate agreement.

Climate security

Unlike the US, however, North Korea is a signatory to the Paris agreement and has previously issued a “declaration of war” against deforestation.

According to monitoring service NK News, Pyongyang has also embraced renewable technologies, particularly hydroelectricity.

Benjamin Habib, a North Korea expert at Australia’s La Trobe University, wrote about North Korea’s commitment to climate in 2014, two years before it signed up to the Paris Agreement.

He said Pyongyang had a record of compliance with UN climate conventions, which makes sense when you consider poorer countries are the most vulnerable to its effects, including the declining availability of food, water and energy, as well as sea level rise and extreme weather.

Previous famines in North Korea left millions dead, and according to Habib, food security remains “an existential problem” for Pyongyang.

“North Korea has strong incentives to fight climate change and its potential to erode government control,” he said.

Diplomatic troubles

Trump has faced intense criticism since deciding to pull the US out of the Paris agreement, joining only two other countries who aren’t signatories – Syria and Nicaragua.

Nicaragua criticized the deal for not being stringent enough and letting big polluters off the hook, while Syria is busy with a civil war that has ravaged the country since 2011.

This week, acting US ambassador to China David Rank resigned from his post in Beijing over Trump’s decision to withdraw.

The move has also caused a rift with India, after Trump accused New Delhi of receiving “billions and billions and billions of dollars” in return for joining the Paris agreement.

While Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi was critical of the deal for not making developed countries shoulder more of the burden, following Trump’s withdrawal he vowed to “continue working … above and beyond the Paris accord.”

CNN’s KJ Kwon contributed reporting.