US pulls out of landmark Paris climate deal

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Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Monday that he submitted a formal notice to the United Nations, which starts the withdrawal process.
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The United States has begun the process of pulling out of the landmark 2015 Paris climate agreement.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Monday that he submitted a formal notice to the United Nations. That starts a withdrawal process that does not become official for a year. His statement touted US’ carbon pollution cuts and called the Paris deal an “unfair economic burden” to the US economy.

Nearly 200 nations signed the deal in which each country provides its own goals to curb emissions of heat-trapping gases that lead to climate change.

“In 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,” Pompeo said in a statement.

The US started the process with a hand-delivered letter, becoming the only country to withdraw. The UN will soon set out procedural details for what happens next, UN deputy spokesman Farhan Haq said.

Agreement rules prevented any country from pulling out in the first three years after the November 4, 2016, ratification. The US withdrawal doesn’t become complete until the day after the 2020 election.

President Donald Trump has been promising withdrawal for two years. His decision was condemned as a reckless failure of leadership by environmental experts, activists and critics.

French President Emmanuel Macron, who tried to persuade Trump to stay in the accord, lamented the decision. “We regret this and it makes the Franco-Chinese partnership on climate and biodiversity even more necessary,” the French presidency said as Macron visited China.

China also expressed “regret” over the decision ahead of the planned signing on Wednesday of a joint document on climate by President Xi Jinping and Macron.

“We hope the US can take more responsibility, and do more to contribute a driving force to the multilateral cooperation process, instead of adding negative energy,” said foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang. “We believe that climate change is a common challenge faced by all of mankind.”

The deal set goals of foiling another 0.5 degree Celsius to 1 degree of warming from current levels. Even the pledges made in 2015 weren’t enough to prevent those levels of warming.

The deal calls for nations to come up with more ambitious pollution cuts every five years, starting in November 2020. Because of the withdrawal, the US role in 2020 negotiations will be reduced, experts said.

Climate change, largely caused by the burning of coal, oil and gas, has already warmed the world by 1 degree since the late 1800s, caused massive melting of ice, triggered weather extremes and changed ocean chemistry. And scientists say, depending on how much carbon dioxide is emitted, it will only get worse by the end of the century, with temperatures soaring by several degrees and oceans rising by close to 1 meter.

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