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U.S. formally announces intent to withdraw from Paris Agreement

By Danielle Haynes
U.S. formally announces intent to withdraw from Paris Agreement
Resistance signs are held up as thousands gather for the Peoples Climate Movement in Washington D.C. April 29.They are marching to stand up for climate, jobs and justice and demand a new clean energy economy. On Friday, the United States submitted formal notice to the United Nations that it's backing out of the Paris climate change agreement. File Photo by Ken Cedeno/UPI | License Photo

Aug. 4 (UPI) -- The State Department on Friday gave the United Nations notice of the United States' intent to withdraw from the Paris climate change agreement.

It's the first official step the United States has made to pull out of the pact since President Donald Trump announced plans to back out of it June 1.

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The State Department issued a statement saying it notified the United Nations it would withdraw as soon as it's eligible. The terms of the Paris Agreement indicate no country can officially announce intent to withdraw until November 2019, and withdrawal can't happen for another year after that.

"The United States supports a balanced approach to climate policy that lowers emissions while promoting economic growth and ensuring energy security," the statement said. "We 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, given the importance of energy access and security in many nationally determined contributions."

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The statement said the United States would open to renegotiating the Paris Agreement if the terms are more favorable to U.S. businesses, workers and taxpayers.

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Trump, who has called climate change a "hoax," indicated he was considering leaving the agreement by saying it's a "bad deal" for the U.S. economy. The 195-nation pact sets out stringent standards to restrict carbon emissions and other greenhouse gases that scientists say contribute to global warming.

"It fails to live up to our environmental ideals," Trump said in June. "As someone who cares deeply about the environment, which I do, I cannot in good conscience support a deal that punishes the United States."

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Andrew Steer, president and CEO of World Resources Institute, a global research organization that focuses on sustainable natural resources, said withdrawal from the agreement will hurt the U.S. economy.

"Shifting to a climate resilient, low carbon economy will spur $23 trillion of investment in renewable energy by 2030. This is the economic opportunity of a lifetime and it defies commons sense to leave that opportunity on the table. China, India, the EU and others are certainly wasting no time in seizing their slice of this pie," he said.

The United Nations issued a statement Friday evening acknowledging receipt of the notice from the United States. It reiterated Secretary-General António Guterres' disappointment in the Trump administration's decision.

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"It is crucial that the United States remains a leader on climate and sustainable development. Climate change is impacting now," Guterres' spokesman, Stéphane Dujarric, said. "Guterres looks forward to engaging with the American government and all other actors in the United States and around the world to build the sustainable future for our children and future generations."

The State Department said the United States will continue to participate in climate change talks, including the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change later this year.

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