WASHINGTON – Acting US ambassador to China David Rank has reportedly resigned from his post in Beijing over President Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw from the Paris climate agreement.

A State Department spokeswoman confirmed Rank’s departure, but said she was unable to verify Twitter posts that said he resigned as he felt unable to deliver a formal notification to China of the US decision last week to quit the agreement.

“He has retired from the foreign service,” said Anna Richey-Allen, a spokeswoman for the State Department’s East Asia Bureau. “Mr Rank has made a personal decision. We appreciate his years of dedicated service to the State Department.”

Rank was serving in China when President Xi Jinping and then-US President Barrack Obama jointly declared their commitment to the Paris agreement, which has been signed by 195 countries and ratified by 147.

A career foreign service officer since 1990, Rank assumed the position of deputy chief of mission at the US embassy in Beijing in January 2016 and had been serving until the arrival of Trump’s pick for the job, former Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad, who was confirmed by Congress late last month.

Rank had been with the department for 27 years and served as the political councilor at the U.S. Embassy in Afghanistan from 2011 to 2012.

It was not immediately clear whether he would be offered another post at the department.

Iowa Governor Terry Branstad, President Donald Trump’s pick as the next U.S. ambassador to Beijing, is expected to take up the post later this month.

Trump’s announcement on Thursday that he would withdraw the United States from the Paris climate accord, saying it would undermine the U.S. economy and cost jobs, drew anger and condemnation from world leaders and heads of industry.

“The world has paid attention to the U.S. withdrawal from the Paris agreement”, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying told a regular news briefing on Tuesday, but added that personnel changes were the United States’ “internal affairs”.

China and Paris Climate accord

President Xi Jinping had urged Donald Trump to keep the US in the Paris accord, but said that his country and France must “protect” the deal.

China, the world’s largest carbon emitter, said it would stick by its commitments to the treaty despite the US decision.

According to Chinese estimates, they would need until 2030 to reach a “peak” of carbon emissions – mostly through inexpensive coal burning – in order to build up their economy to a point where they can afford to start transitioning to more renewable sources of energy.

After that time, the country will begin to reduce carbon emissions and increase the proportion of renewable sources of energy. They are already a leader in solar panel production and renewable energy investments throughout the world.