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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

Updated Jan 28, 2021 - World

Biden reviews U.S. arms deals with Saudi Arabia and UAE

Trump struck several large arms deals with Mohammed bin Salman (L) and Saudi Arabia. Photo: Kevin Dietsch-Pool/Getty Images

The Biden administration has put on hold two big arms deals with Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates which were approved in the final weeks of the Trump administration, a State Department official told Axios.

Why it matters: The sales of F-35 jets and attack drones to the UAE and a large supply of munitions to Saudi Arabia will be paused pending a review. That signals a major policy shift from the Trump era, and may herald sharp tensions with both Gulf countries.

Amazon ordered to redo union vote in Alabama

Photo: Patrick Pleul/picture alliance via Getty Images

A U.S. National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) official on Monday called for a re-vote in a union election at an Amazon warehouse in Bessemer, Alabama.

Why it matters: The move could set the stage for another organizing drive at the e-commerce giant, which has, so far, fought off unionizing efforts in the U.S.

Pentagon to probe 2019 Syria strike after reports of dozens of civilian casualties

Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin on Nov. 20. Photo: Mazen Mahdi/AFP via Getty Images

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin has ordered a new investigation into a 2019 U.S. airstrike that killed around 80 people, including dozens of women and children in Syria, the New York Times reports.

Why it matters: The move comes after the Times reported this month that the Pentagon attempted to keep the strike and casualties under wraps, failing to investigate the decision behind it even after questions were raised internally.