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Illustration: Lazaro Gamio/Axios

Call it the long goodbye from the Paris climate agreement.

Driving the news: President Trump’s 2017 announcement withdrawing America from the 2015 accord becomes official at midnight Wednesday after a prolonged process required by the United Nations. It’s a chaotic coincidence that it comes the day after Election Day.

Where it stands: The outcome of the presidential election was unclear as of midnight. If Joe Biden wins the White House, he has vowed to return to the deal.

  • Trump’s official exit from the deal would be fleeting, but America's retreat on climate change over the last four years would linger and be laborious to reverse.

The intrigue: Wednesday’s news is anticlimactic from the administration’s perspective. In Trump’s mind, he exited the deal the day he announced his intention to do so in June 2017, according to Axios’ Jonathan Swan.

  • A White House spokesperson declined to comment and referred Axios to the State Department, which has authority over global deals. The department is also not expected to mark the exit in any official way.
  • The administration took the formal step to withdraw a year ago Wednesday, per UN rules. “No additional action is required by the United States for the withdrawal to take effect,” according to a State Department statement emailed Monday.

The big picture: The United States is the only nation in the world to withdraw from the deal, which nearly all countries are a part of. Indeed, most of the world is moving ahead with varying levels of ambition to address climate change and move to cleaner sources of energy regardless of who the U.S. president is.

  • In just the last few weeks, China, South Korea and Japan have announced ambitious goals, joining those already made by Europe. Although they’re merely stated goals, they still signal intent and direction of government priority.

The bottom line: America’s next president will influence the pace and smoothness of the transition, but he will not influence whether it’s happening or not.

Go deeper: Trump’s Paris endgame is here

Go deeper

19 hours ago - World

Biden says he won't immediately remove U.S. tariffs on China

President-elect Joe Biden during an event in Wilmington, Delaware, on Tuesday. Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

President Trump's 25% tariffs imposed on China under the phase one trade deal will remain in place at the start of the new administration, President-elect Biden said in an interview with the New York Times published early Wednesday.

Details: "I'm not going to make any immediate moves, and the same applies to the tariffs," Biden said. He plans to conduct a full review of the current U.S. policy on China and speak with key allies in Asia and Europe to "develop a coherent strategy," he said.

Ben Geman, author of Generate
11 hours ago - Energy & Environment

The chasm between CO2 goals and energy production

Reproduced from The Production Gap Report: 2020 Special Report; Chart: Axios Visuals

Projected and planned levels of global oil, natural gas and coal production are way out of step with the kind of emissions cuts needed to hold global warming significantly in check, a new analysis shows.

Why it matters: The "production gap" report from the UN's environment agency and other researchers provides another lens onto how the world is nowhere near on track to meet the Paris climate deal's goals.

Government watchdog sues Trump, Kushner and WH to prevent records being destroyed

President Trump. Photo: Erin Schaff/Pool/Getty Images

A government watchdog group filed a lawsuit against President Trump, his son-in-law Jared Kushner and the White House on Tuesday to prevent them from destroying records during his remaining time in office.

Why it matters: The Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) and other groups allege in their suit, filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, that Trump and his administration are violating the Presidential Records Act by failing to properly preserve records of official government business.