A small achievement of Obama in Laos.

President Barack Obama visited Laos a few days ago, the first holder of his office to do so. He made a speech. It mentions Lao culture, Laotian minorities, Laotians in the United States, bomb clearance, human rights, TPP, China, ASEAN… There is one unspecific sentence on climate change.

Laos ratified the Paris Agreement on climate change one day later, on 7 September, taking the numbers to 27 countries, still at 39% of emissions.

This was not difficult diplomacy. The ratification can’t be something Obama asked for during the visit. It was probably more like this. Laos has signed the agreement and filed an INDC, so ratification was just a matter of signing and filing the paperwork (a task apparently still too hard for the foreign ministries of the EU members and Brazil). The government knows that the Paris Agreement is important to Obama. If not, the White House and the State Department will have reminded it in the preparations. So ratification was timed as an icebreaker for his visit. Thirty seconds at the start of the meeting for congratulations, then they moved on.

Most of the working day of a President and the staff must be spent on issues like this: individually not very important, but they add up to his or her legacy. We know already which of the candidates for the office will leave one.

Author: James Wimberley

James Wimberley (b. 1946, an Englishman raised in the Channel Islands. three adult children) is a former career international bureaucrat with the Council of Europe in Strasbourg. His main achievements there were the Lisbon Convention on recognition of qualifications and the Kosovo law on school education. He retired in 2006 to a little white house in Andalucia, His first wife Patricia Morris died in 2009 after a long illness. He remarried in 2011. to the former Brazilian TV actress Lu Mendonça. The cat overlords are now three. I suppose I've been invited to join real scholars on the list because my skills, acquired in a decade of technical assistance work in eastern Europe, include being able to ask faux-naïf questions like the exotic Persians and Chinese of eighteenth-century philosophical fiction. So I'm quite comfortable in the role of country-cousin blogger with a European perspective. The other specialised skill I learnt was making toasts with a moral in the course of drunken Caucasian banquets. I'm open to expenses-paid offers to retell Noah the great Armenian and Columbus, the orange, and university reform in Georgia. James Wimberley's occasional publications on the web