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State Department notifies UN of intent to withdraw US from Paris climate deal

The Trump administration took a formal step toward severing U.S. participation in the Paris Agreement on climate change, submitting its intent to withdraw from the deal to the United Nations on Aug. 4. The move follows President Donald Trump's announcement in June that he would pull the U.S. out of the international pact, calling the agreement a bad deal for U.S. workers and the economy.

Although the U.S. plans to withdraw from the accord "as soon as it is eligible to do so," the administration repeated that Trump is "open to re-engaging in the Paris agreement if the United States can identify terms that are more favorable to it, its businesses, its workers, its people, and its taxpayers," according to a release from the U.S. State Department.

The State Department added that the U.S. will continue to cut its greenhouse gas emissions "through innovation and technology breakthroughs" and by working with other countries "to help them access and use fossil fuels more cleanly and efficiently and deploy renewable and other clean energy sources." The U.S. will also participate in international climate negotiations and meetings, including the 23rd Conference of the Parties, or COP-23, of the UN Framework on Climate Change "to protect U.S. interests and ensure all future policy options remain open to the administration."

As part of the December 2015 climate accord, the Obama administration said the U.S. would lower its greenhouse gas emissions by 26% to 28% from 2005 levels by 2025. Trump blasted the Paris deal and other Obama-era climate policies and vowed during the campaign to pull the U.S. out of the agreement if elected.

Despite his offer to remain open to a new agreement, officials with the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change have said the pact cannot be renegotiated based on the request of a single party, and many countries have said they have no interest in redoing the deal. And although Trump wants a speedy exit from the Paris agreement, no country can begin the withdrawal process until three years after the deal enters force, and the removal process takes a year. The deal entered force in early November 2016, meaning the U.S. could not pull out until November 2020 — around the time of the next presidential election.