The Trump administration outlined the United States’ intention to withdraw from the Paris climate change agreement in an official notice delivered to the United Nations on Friday.
It was the first written notice to the U.N. that the administration plans to pull out of the 2015 pact, which has won the support of nearly 200 nations.
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In a statement, the State Department said the administration will nonetheless continue participating in international climate change negotiations, including talks aimed at implementing the Paris climate deal, “to protect U.S. interests and ensure all future policy options remain open to the administration.”
Trump announced in June that the U.S. will leave the agreement.
Under the terms of the Paris deal, the U.S. can’t fully withdraw until Nov. 4, 2020 — one day after the next presidential election. The next president could decide to rejoin the agreement if Trump doesn’t win a second term.
In addition, the U.S. can’t even formally notify the United Nations that it is withdrawing until 2019. As a result, Friday’s notice is a largely symbolic statement with no legal weight.
International diplomats are still holding out hope that Trump might change his mind, or reach some kind of compromise that would allow the United States to stay in. And they argued that Friday’s statement leaves some wiggle room for the U.S. to remain.
In the June speech in which Trump announced he would pull out, the president held out the possibility that the U.S. would “begin negotiations to re-enter either the Paris accord or a really entirely new transaction on terms that are fair to the United States.”
The State Department on Friday said the U.S. “will continue to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions through innovation and technology breakthroughs, and work with other countries to help them access and use fossil fuels more cleanly and efficiently and deploy renewable and other clean energy sources.”
Other countries have said they will not negotiate a totally new climate deal, as the Paris agreement was the product of decades of laborious talks. But they believe the U.S. might opt to stay in if Trump publicly abandons former President Barack Obama’s domestic emissions reduction commitment.
It remains unclear what the Trump administration’s next steps might be.
POLITICO first reported earlier Friday that the U.S. would announce its intent to withdraw from the agreement.
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