The Trump administration on Friday officially told the United Nations that the US intends to pull out of the 2015 Paris climate pact. But the State Department's announcement doesn't formally start the process of the US getting out of the voluntary agreement. That's still to come. Still, the department described its communication as a "strong message" to the world, following President Trump's decision in June to leave the accord. Nigel Purvis, who directed US climate diplomacy during the Bill Clinton and George W. Bush administrations, tells the AP countries can't withdraw from new international agreements, including the Paris climate one, until three years after they go into effect. The Paris agreement went into effect on Nov. 4, 2016. Then the process takes a year.
The State Department cited the same timeline, saying it can officially start withdrawing as soon as November 2019. That means the earliest the US can be out of the climate agreement is Nov. 4, 2020—the day after the next presidential election. In a statement, the State Department said the US will continue to participate in international meetings and negotiations on current and future climate change deals. The next meeting is in Bonn, Germany, in November. 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," the department said. (Read more Paris Agreement stories.)