Donald Trump has formally started the process of pulling the US out of the landmark Paris Agreement, three years after the deal came into force.
Announcing the withdrawal on Monday, secretary of state Mike Pompeo reiterated the administration’s view that the deal entered into by Barack Obama gave an advantage to developing countries, in particular China.
“President Trump made the decision to withdraw from the Paris Agreement because of the unfair economic burden imposed on American workers, businesses, and taxpayers by US pledges made under the agreement,” said Pompeo.
The move further isolates the US administration as the only national government in the world that officially turned its back on global efforts to cut greenhouse gas emissions and limit global temperature rise “well below” 2C.
Four years ago, the US played a critical role in brokering the deal it is now exiting by bringing China on side.
Andrew Steer, president and CEO of the World Resources Institute, said the move was “cruel to future generations, leaving the world less safe and productive”.
He also countered the idea that the Paris deal was unfair to American workers. “It also fails people in the United States, who will lose out on clean energy jobs, as other nations grab the competitive and technological advantages that the low-carbon future offers.”
Trump first announced his intention to withdraw the US from the Paris deal in June 2017, but Monday – three years after the deal entered into force – was the earliest opportunity for the administration to legally notify of its withdrawal.
Executive secretary of UN Climate Change Patricia Espinosa marked that anniversary by tweeting a video of diplomats and negotiators celebrating the signing of the Paris Agreement in 2015.
“Let’s keep up crucial momentum for global climate action,” Espinosa said.
But even outside the agreement, the US will continue to take part in the climate talks.
The withdrawal procedures will take a year to complete meaning the US will officially leave the Paris deal on the 4 November 2020, one day after the US election on 3 November.