North America

US formally begins withdrawal from 'unfair' Paris climate accord

An inflatable globe seen at the West Front of the US Capitol following the climate strike march in Washington, DC, USA, 20 September 2019. Source: AAP

The United States has told the United Nations it has begun the process of pulling out of the landmark 2015 Paris climate agreement.

The United States on Monday formally notified the United Nations that it was withdrawing from the Paris climate accord, making the world's largest economy the sole outlier from the agreement.

President Donald Trump went ahead with the pullout despite mounting evidence of the reality and impact of climate change, with September the fourth month in the row with near- or record-breaking temperatures.

With the notification, the United States will be out of the agreement negotiated by Mr Trump's predecessor Barack Obama in one year - on 4 November, 2020.

Announcing the move, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo reiterated Mr Trump's remarks in 2017 that the agreement imposed an "unfair economic burden" on the United States.

"The US approach incorporates the reality of the global energy mix and uses all energy sources and technologies cleanly and efficiently, including fossils fuels, nuclear energy and renewable energy," Mr Pompeo said in a statement.

He said that the United States will "continue to offer a realistic and pragmatic model" in global negotiations.

Thousands of school kids and college students in New York City walked out of class on March 15, 2019 to protest climate change.
Thousands of school kids and college students in New York City walked out of class on March 15, 2019 to protest climate change.

Robert Menendez, the top Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said that the Trump administration has "once again thumbed its nose at our allies, turned a blind eye to the facts and further politicized the world's greatest environmental challenge."

"This decision will go down as one of the worst examples of President Trump’s willful abdication of US leadership and concession of power over the global economy to China, India and others," he said in a statement.

The Paris accord set a goal of limiting temperature rises to within two degrees Celsius from pre-industrial levels, a goal that scientists say is vital to check the worst damage from global warming such as increasing droughts, rising floods and intensifying storms.

Mindful of the politics at home, Mr Obama insisted that the goals be non-binding, with each nation instead choosing their own actions and informing the United Nations.

Stay up to date with SBS NEWS

  • App
  • Subscribe
  • Follow
  • Listen
  • Watch