President Donald Trump walks to speak to members of the media on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, Monday, Nov…
President Donald Trump walks to speak to members of the media on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, Nov. 4, 2019.

UNITED NATIONS - The United States announced Monday that it has notified the United Nations that it will begin its withdrawal from the 2015 Paris climate agreement to lower greenhouse gas emissions. 

"President Donald Trump made this decision because the Paris Agreement unfairly burdens American businesses, workers and taxpayers while giving a free pass to other countries," a State Department spokesman told VOA. 

The United States is second only to China as the top emitter of greenhouse gas emissions globally.

U.S. President Donald Trump campaigned against the U.S. being a part of the Paris deal, though virtually every other country has signed up. Due to a 3-year waiting period since the agreement entered into force, Monday was the first day Washington could formally submit its official notification. It will take an additional year for the U.S. withdrawal to take effect. That date — Nov. 4, 2020 — is the day after the 2020 U.S. presidential election. 

Participants and delegate members hold up solar lanterns in honor to the Paris Agreement, during the opening session of the Climate Conference in Marrakech, Morocco, Nov. 7, 2016.
FILE - Participants and delegate members hold up solar lanterns in honor of the Paris Agreement, during the opening session of the Climate Conference in Marrakech, Morocco, Nov. 7, 2016.

Democrat challengers to Trump do not support the withdrawal, and if one of them wins the presidency, that person could cancel the withdrawal after taking office Jan. 20, 2021. 

"As the climate crisis worsens each day and California burns and Iowa floods, Trump continues to abandon science and our international leadership," tweeted Joe Biden, one of Trump's main political challengers. "He just notified the United Nations of our official withdrawal from the Paris Agreement. It's shameful."

The Paris Agreement aims to keep a global temperature rise this century under 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, and to pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase even further to 1.5 degrees Celsius. The deal also seeks to strengthen the ability of countries to respond to and mitigate the impacts of climate change.

A U.N. spokesperson confirmed receipt of the U.S. notification and said the U.N. would say something further soon.

The Trump administration says irrespective of the Paris Agreement, U.S. net greenhouse gas emissions dropped 13% from 2005 to 2017, while the economy grew over 19%. 

On the state and local level, as well as in the private sector, there is still a major drive to respond to climate change in the United States.