The United States on Wednesday formally withdrew from the Paris Climate Agreement, becoming the first country to do so, amid the election uncertainty. The move came three years after President Donald Trump expressed his intent to remove the country from the global accord aimed to reduce greenhouse gas emmissions.
The 74-year old formally notified the United Nations last year about his intention to withdraw from the pact, after making the announcement in 2017.
The mandatory year-long waiting after the notification came to an end on Wednesday, following which the US exited the accord.
Trump has repeatedly criticised the agreement as economically detrimental and claimed it could cost the country 2.5 million jobs by 2025.
He also said it gave other major emitters, like China and India, a free pass.
Trump stated that he intended to renegotiate the details of the United States’s membership within the Paris Agreement that can better protect US workers in industries like coal, paper, and steel.
The US is the second leading producer of all carbon dioxide emissions globally, behind China.
But whether the US exit turns out to be brief or lasting depends on the outcome of the presidential contest, the Washington Post said.
A possible second Trump term would make clear that an international effort to slow the Earth’s warming will not include the US government. Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden, meanwhile, has vowed to rejoin the Paris accord as soon as he is inaugurated and to make the US a global leader on climate action.
“Biden has vowed to re-enter the Paris accord if elected, a move that could take less than six months, ” Varun Sivaram, a senior research scholar at Columbia University’s SIPA Center on Global Energy Policy, told ABC News.
“Over the last four years, the Trump administration has sharply diminished the United States’ standing in the world,” in terms of environmental policy, Sivaram said.
While Biden’s climate plan has been recognised as the most ambitious the US has ever proposed, it still may not hit the mark, according to some critics.
Republicans have criticised Biden’s climate plan as being too expensive, with Vice President Mike Pence describing it as “a USD 2 trillion version of the Green New Deal” during his debate with Democratic rival Senator Kamala Harris last month.