Groningen Journal of International Law

International Law Under Construction

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Biden-Harris Back to Paris – A Free Pass From the Past? An International Legal Perspective on the Reparations Still Due

Mohit Khubchandani


On 20 January 2021, Joe Biden took office as the 46th President of the United States of America (US), alongside Kamala Harris, the first female Vice-President. Among his first acts as President, Biden signed an executive order to rejoin the Paris Agreement on Climate Change, 2015 (PA). While this a welcome decision, this article argues that the US still owes reparations to the world for the transboundary environmental harms committed. There is no retrospective escape from the internationally wrongful acts committed by the past administration. The Trump Administration had announced its decision to leave the agreement in June 2017 but could legally exit it only in November 2020. Therefore, every climate adverse policy enacted in the interim period is something for which the nation owes as an apology to the world; a legal one, too. This is also an opportunity for the world to see, tactically and politically, how much this new administration is willing to take responsibility.

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