US begins Paris climate deal withdrawal

Donald Trump with EPA administrator Scott Pruitt after announcing the US would pull out of the Paris climate agreement.

Donald Trump with EPA administrator Scott Pruitt after announcing the US would pull out of the Paris climate agreement. Photo: Getty

The Trump administration has formally notified the United Nations that it will withdraw the United States from the Paris Agreement, the first formal step in a one-year process to exit the global pact to fight climate change, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has confirmed.

The United States, the world’s largest historic greenhouse gas emitter, would become the only country outside the accord, a decision President Donald Trump promised to boost US oil, gas and coal industries.

“The U.S. is proud of our record as a world leader in reducing all emissions, fostering resilience, growing our economy, and ensuring energy for our citizens. Ours is a realistic and pragmatic model,” Mr Pompeo said on Twitter on Monday (local time).

The State Department letter to United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres started the clock on a process that would be completed one day after the 2020 US presidential election, on November 4, 2020.

Environmental groups said they hoped Mr Trump would be defeated in 2020 by a rival who would re-join the agreement with bold new targets.

“The next president will need to rejoin the accord immediately and commit to the rapid, wholesale clean-energy transformation the climate emergency demands,” said Jean Su, energy director with the Center for Biological Diversity.

The Obama administration signed the United States onto the 2015 pact, promising a 26-28 per cent cut in US greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 from 2005 levels.

Mr Trump campaigned on a promise to rescind that pledge, saying it would hurt the US economy while leaving other big polluters like China to increase emissions. But he was bound by UN rules to wait until Nov. 4, 2019 to file exit papers.

“What we won’t do is punish the American people while enriching foreign polluters,” Mr Trump said at a shale gas industry conference in Pennsylvania on October 23.

All the top Democratic presidential hopefuls seeking to unseat Mr Trump in next year’s election have promised to re-engage in the Paris Agreement if they win.

Until its formal exit, the United States will continue to participate in negotiations over the technical aspects of the agreement, represented by a small team of career State Department officials.

The United States and China, the world’s two largest carbon emitters, have recently been leading negotiations of the Paris “rule book” that outlines transparency and reporting rules for signatories.


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