The U.S. submitted paperwork Monday to the United Nations that begins the one-year process to formally withdraw from the historic Paris climate accord.
President Donald Trump, a longtime critic of the agreement, has bemoaned what he said is unfair treatment under it that imposes burdens on American workers and businesses.
In announcing the documentation's submission, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the U.S. "has reduced all types of emissions, even as we grow our economy," citing greenhouse gas emissions data that ended in 2017 when Trump assumed office.
That data showed a 13% decline in emissions from 2005-2017, Pompeo said, vowing the U.S. "will continue to research, innovate, and grow our economy while reducing emissions."
"In international climate discussions, we will continue to offer a realistic and pragmatic model – backed by a record of real world results – showing innovation and open markets lead to greater prosperity, fewer emissions, and more secure sources of energy," the top diplomat said in a statement.
"We will continue to work with our global partners to enhance resilience to the impacts of climate change and prepare for and respond to natural disasters."
The Trump administration is beginning the process to leave the Paris agreement on the first day possible under its complex rules.
Nearly all of the world's nations have signed on to the pact in a mutual effort to fight back climate change by reducing carbon emissions.
If the process is completed, the U.S. would be the first nation to quit the deal. The loss of the world's superpower and second-largest carbon emitter would likely send shockwaves through the agreement. But even after Trump announced his desire to leave the pact as soon as possible, more nations have signed on rather than quit the agreement.
Complicating matters, the earliest that the agreement could be formally exited is one day after next year's Nov. 3 presidential election which could see Trump unseated from the Oval Office.
Regardless, environmental protection groups were quick to slam Washington's announcement.
“By withdrawing from the Paris Agreement, the Trump administration is showing that it cares neither about science nor economics. It is driven by outdated views from the last century that held that climate action was costly and hurt jobs," Andrew Steer, president and CEO of the non-profit World Resources Institute, said in a statement.
"We now know that smart climate action, which is being carried forward through the Agreement, promotes greater economic efficiency, drives innovation, and provides long-term policy consistency. Combined, these lead to a much stronger economy," he added.
By Michael Hernandez in Washington