An informal gathering of environment ministers from around the world is underway in Montreal this weekend following the United States' decision to withdraw from the landmark Paris climate agreement.

The conference, which is being hosted by Canada, China and the European Union, brings together 30 nations in order to talk about the next steps of implementing the 2015 agreement.

In her opening statement, Federal Environment Minister Catherine McKenna said these meetings are critical in order to show the world that the nations are bound together in fighting climate change.

"It's clear that we need to be taking a leadership role in climate change," said McKenna.

The Paris agreement, a landmark 190-nation agreement to reduce earth-warming gases, was struck in 2015. Months later, the U.S. and China jointly said they would sign off on the deal. 

China's special representative for climate change affairs, Xie Zhenhua, emphasized the importance of pushing forward with the deal, in spite of the recent blow from the Trump administration announcing its plan to bow out.

"The Paris agreement should not be renegotiated," he said.

Willing to work with U.S.

While the Trump administration officially announced in August that it plans to pull out of the agreement, there are representatives from the U.S. at the meeting in Montreal this weekend.

"I'm very pleased that the United States is represented at this meeting, I think it's a positive sign," said McKenna.

Abandoning the accord was one of President Donald Trump's principal campaign pledges. In August, U.S. Vice-President Mike Pence said Trump was choosing to put American economic growth and jobs first, but McKenna argued it is possible to promote the economy while fighting climate change.

"We continue to make the case that, like the United States, we want to create jobs, we want to create economic growth and there's a $30-trillion opportunity when it comes to clean growth and climate action," she said.

With files from CBC's Alison Northcott, the Associated Press and Reuters