London — The science of global warming is clear and requires urgent international action, the UN said Nov. 4 as the US formally withdrew from the Paris Agreement on climate change – the first nation to do so.
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The statement comes as the US formally pulled out of the 2015 global climate deal, and as votes were still being counted in a closely contested US presidential election race.
"There is no greater responsibility than protecting our planet and people from the threat of climate change," said the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, in a joint statement with the governments of the UK, Chile, France and Italy – the most recent and upcoming hosts of the annual UN climate talks.
"The science is clear that we must urgently scale up action and work together to reduce the impacts of global warming for us all. The Paris Agreement provides the right framework to achieve this," the UN said.
US President Donald Trump signaled his intent to withdraw from the treaty in 2017, and the earliest this could legally take place was four years after the agreement came into force on Nov. 4, 2016.
"On 12 December we will be celebrating the five-year anniversary of the Paris Agreement. We must ensure that it is implemented in full," the UN said in the statement.
"We note with regret that the US withdrawal from the Paris Agreement has formally come into effect today. As we look towards COP26 in Glasgow, we remain committed to working with all US stakeholders and partners around the world to accelerate climate action, and with all signatories to ensure the full implementation of the Paris Agreement," it said.
A win by Democratic Presidential nominee Joe Biden could allow America to re-join the Paris Agreement under executive order, while a second-term win by President Trump would be expected to keep America out of the deal for at least another four years.
Under the Paris deal, almost 200 countries agreed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions on a voluntary basis, in order to limit global warming to no more than 2 degrees Celsius by 2100, and to aim for no more than 1.5 degrees C.
The deal aims to enable an expansion of clean technology in energy, industry and transportation, while reducing the unabated use of the most carbon intensive fuels and industrial processes.
The UN has said rising temperatures increase the risk of rising seas and more extreme weather events which would threaten human health and safety, food and water security and socio-economic development.