Today the New Zealand delegation is getting a bouquet not a brick-bat.

They made a very good intervention (short speech) in negotiations over the Kyoto Protocol.  It’ll take a bit to explain why it was a good thing, so bear with me a minute while I explain.

Countries that have agreed to take on binding commitments to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions under the Kyoto Protocol have done so for a set period of time.  This period of time is called the “commitment period.”  For example, under the Kyoto Protocol, New Zealand has agreed to reduce its emissions to 1990 levels by 2012.  In case you’re wondering, New Zealand won’t actually achieve this, but that’s another story.  The period from 2008 till 2012 is New Zealand’s first commitment period.

Countries are now debating how long the next commitment period will be. Right now, you’re probably reading this with astonishment.  After all, the world’s in economic and environmental crisis but everyone here is debating whether countries should take on commitments for 5, 7, 10 or more years.  But this debate is actually very important.

The science on climate change is evolving.  As each year goes by the world learns more about the climate and how the planet responds to global warming.  Mostly, this news is scary.  Climate change is happening way faster than we all thought.

So in this situation, it’s vital the countries don’t make long term commitments based only on today’s knowledge.  The Treaty agreed to at

Copenhagen in December needs to be flexible enough that the world can ramp up efforts to tackle climate change without having to wait a longtime to renegotiate commitments.  That’s why a short commitment period is really important.

Few developed countries appear to be openly backing a short commitment period of five years.  Most are sitting firmly on the fence.  That was why today, I was very pleased to see that New Zealand supported the proposal.

So thank you New Zealand.  I look forward to a target!