After US President Donald Trump announced on June 1st that the he plans to withdraw the US from the Paris Agreement, the State Department announced that a formal notice of withdrawal had been delivered to the UN on Friday. Yet, under the international agreement’s framework the earliest the US will be able to exit the deal is November 4, 2020, a day after the next US presidential election.

The deal aims to prevent the rise in the Earth's temperature by 2 ° C

The deal aims to prevent the rise in the Earth’s temperature by 2 ° C Photo Credit: Reuters/Channel 2 News

The US State Department announced on Friday that the US has officially given the United Nations notice of withdrawal from the Paris Agreement. Although the US cannot formally notify of its withdrawal until 2019, the State Department called the announcement a sharp message to the world.

“The State Department is telling the UN what the President already told the world on June 1 and it has no legal effect,” Nigel Purvis, a US climate diplomat under the Clinton and Bush administrations told the Associated Press.   

Purvis explained that countries could withdraw from modern international agreements, including the Paris Agreement, only three years after the agreements entered into effect. Therefore, although the deal was signed by former US President Barak Obama in April 2015, only in November 2016 did it take effect. Even after a three-year waiting period, any withdrawal process is then expected to continue for about a year.

The State Department does not refute Purvis’ outlined timeline and admits that the US will only be able to formally begin the process of withdrawal in 2019. This will mean that the US will be officially out of the agreement no earlier than November 4, 2020, a day after the next presidential election.

According to the department, US President Donald Trump is “open to re-engaging in the Paris Agreement if the United States can identify terms that are more favorable to it, its business, its workers, its people and its taxpayers.”

As part of the existing agreement, various countries have set their own national goals for reducing air pollution. Though Trump is allowed to set different targets than those chosen by Obama, he cannot change the agreement’s actual outline.    

Trump first announced his intent to withdraw on June 1

Trump first announced his intent to withdraw on June 1 Photo Credit: Reuters/Channel 2 News

U.N. spokesman Stephane Dujarric confirmed that UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres received the notice from US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley, stating: “The secretary-general welcomes any effort to re-engage in the Paris Agreement by the United States.” Dujarric reiterated Guterres’ statement from June calling the US’ decision “a major disappointment for global efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and promote global security.”

“It is crucial that the United States remains a leader on climate and sustainable development,” Dujarric said. “Climate change is impacting now. He 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.”