US begins year-long Paris Agreement withdrawal process

Paperwork has been filed by the Trump administration to withdraw the US from the Paris Agreement in a process that will take around a year.

Mike Pompeo, the Trump administration's secretary of state, announced that he had submitted a formal notice to the UN, in which he touted America’s carbon pollution cuts and called the Paris deal an “unfair economic burden” to the US economy.

Donald Trump repeatedly spoke of pulling the US out of the Paris Agreement during his campaign trail to become US President, saying he was concerned about the impact it would have on jobs and the economy. He formally announced the move in June 2017, approximately six months after taking office.

Trump has close ties to oil, gas and coal companies and their CEOs and has accepted millions in donations to his presidential campaign fund from fossil fuel companies. His cabinet has also seen numerous former lobbyists and allies of fossil fuel firms enter its ranks.

While Trump says the move should reduce red tape on American industry, it comes at a time when scientists and many world governments urge rapid action to avoid the worst impacts of global warming.

Once it exits, the US - historically, the number one emitter of greenhouse gases in the world and a leading oil and gas producer - will become the only country outside the accord. Nearly 200 nations signed the climate deal when it was first brokered, in which each country provides its own goals to curb emissions of heat-trapping gases that lead to climate change.

“The US is proud of our record as a world leader in reducing all emissions, fostering resilience, growing our economy and ensuring energy for our citizens,” Pompeo said.

“In international climate discussions, we will continue to offer a realistic and pragmatic model - backed by a record of real-world results - showing innovation and open markets lead to greater prosperity, fewer emissions and more secure sources of energy.”

However, the European Union expressed disappointment over the move.

“The withdrawal of the United States from the Paris Agreement means that the rest of us must further increase our cooperation,” said Krista Mikkonen, minister of the environment for current European Council president Finland.

“We will continue to work with US states, cities and civil society in support of climate action.”

Despite the withdrawal process having now begun, all of the key Democratic presidential contenders seeking to unseat Trump in the November 2020 election have promised to re-engage in the Paris Agreement if they win.

A number of US cities and states have also been working in defiance of Trump by pledging to stick to the Agreement by enacting localised policies, effectively over-riding the government's edict.

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