SECRETARY KERRY: Well, good morning, folks. I’m sorry we’re running just a moment late, and I apologize to everybody for that. I want to thank everyone for coming, distinguished ministers, my colleagues, my cabinet colleague Secretary of Energy Ernie Moniz, and Foreign Minister Malcorra of Argentina, Commissioner Canete, the European commissioner, Minister Biruta of Rwanda, Ambassador Liu of China. Thank you, all of you, for being part of this.
And I am particularly grateful to my friend, Ernie, who has been a partner in our efforts on nuclear agreements and climate change and many other issues. I want to thank, in absentia, our terrific administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Gina McCarthy, who was not able to be here with us today but has led the U.S. delegation to the Montreal Protocol talks, and she has done so with great skill and tenacity.
Yesterday, the world reached a very important milestone in the global fight against climate change. And the Paris Agreement came one step – one giant step, a leap – closer to entering into force. In just one day, more than 30 countries formally joined the accord. And that one step is a giant leap for the simple reason it carried us well over the 55-country threshold required in the document. That leaves us just one last hurdle, and I am confident, confident, that we are going to surpass that soon by bringing on board countries representing more than 55 percent of global emissions.
Now, the goal that we have is staring us in the face even as we meet here today; and that is to see the most ambitious and inclusive climate agreement in history enter into force before the end of this year, but also to take steps that we know we can take that have a profound complementary impact on that agreement. We know that the Paris Agreement itself won’t, in and of itself, get the job done. So we need to do more. And one the single-most important actions that the global community can take is to amend the Montreal Protocol to include an ambitious amendment that phases down the use of hydrofluorocarbons, HFCs.
Now, the Montreal Protocol, designed in 1987, which I had the privilege of working on and helping to get through the United States Senate, was passed in order to address the deeply troubling hole that existed in the ozone layer. And it actually has become one of the most successful environmental agreements in history. Virtually all parties met their obligations under the accord. And nearly 100 of the most ozone-depleting substances have been completely phased out. As a result, the hole in the ozone layer is shrinking and on its way to full repair.
And we can all recall how we kept talking about the growing hole in the ozone, the dangers that it presented to us, and many people doubted whether or not we’d have the capacity to be able to do something about it. Well, we did do something about it. We proved that human beings have the ability to be able to make a difference on the environment, if we, when we, make the choices that are available to us. And now – but then, that’s the good news.
The bad news is that the substances banned by the Montreal Protocol have been replaced by substances that cause a different kind of danger. HFCs may be safer for the ozone, but they are exceptionally potent drivers of climate change itself, often thousands of times more potent than, for example, carbon dioxide. So today, the growing use of HFCs in everyday items, like refrigerators or air conditioners, in inhalers, is responsible for an entire gigaton of CO2-equivellent pollution annually. It’s extraordinary.
And in – so let me put that in other sort of words, visual words. These substances, HFCs, already emit almost as much pollution as 300 coal-fired power plants. And that is only going to get worse if we don’t act soon.
That is why a phasedown is so important. But it’s also important if I translate that into impact. In Paris, we set the goal of eliminating the Earth’s rising temperature because of global climate change to 1.5 degrees centigrade, or 2 degrees centigrade with an aspiration for the 1.5. But amending the Montreal Protocol to phase down HFC use would actually help us to avoid a full one half degree centigrade of increase. So just in this HFC effort, we have the ability to have a profound impact on reaching our goal of the Paris Agreement.
And if we take advantage of this transition and move to appliances that are not only ozone friendly and climate friendly but also more energy efficient, then we can potentially double the climate benefits and save consumers, tax payers, billions of dollars on their power bills. So, this is what we all call win-win-win in terms of public policy. And when the parties to the Montreal Protocol come together next month in Kigali, it is essential not just that an HFC amendment pass, but that an ambitious HFC amendment be adopted.
Now, I’m very proud to stand here today with representatives from many of the more than 100 countries that have formed a coalition committed to a strong amendment, an amendment that would do three key things. One, it would require the United States and other donor countries to take the first reduction steps. Second, soon thereafter it would freeze HFC consumption and production in countries that need more assistance – the so-called “Article III countries,” as they’re known in the lingo of the Montreal Protocol talks. And third, it would include ambitious phasedown schedules for all parties everywhere.
Now, I want to underscore that we understand that while the phasedown amendment is a critical piece of the climate puzzle, it doesn’t mean it’s going to be easy to implement. It’s going to require a concerted effort and everybody knows that. But as I said during the last round of negotiations in Vienna, the reason the Montreal Protocol has been so successful is because cooperation is at its core. Under its provisions, no country is or has ever been expected to go it alone. That is why the multilateral fund exists; to assist countries in implementing their obligations. And today, I am pleased to announce that if an ambitious amendment is concluded in Kigali, the United States and other donor countries intend to contribute an additional $27 million to the multilateral fund in 2017 alone as extra support for the amendment’s implementation. And because we all recognize that governments alone will not solve this challenge, nearly 20 donors from the philanthropic community are today announcing that they will complement these funds to the tune of more than $50 million. Now, this money will be targeted at helping countries that need assistance with the phasedown to be able to expand their energy efficiency and thus expand their economic savings.
And so, I just emphasize to everybody this is public-private partnership at its best. And this is also the developed countries, the larger nations, understanding the responsibility to help other countries be able to make it work.
So, that’s the reason I’m confident that together we’re going to achieve what this moment demands. And provided we do, if the nations of the world join together to fulfill the commitment that we’ve made, then we can leave Kigali with an ambitious amendment to phase down the use and production of HFCs and we will make a huge step, again, to move closer to the goal that we set in Paris, and most importantly, to honor our moral responsibility to protect the health and the livability of the planet that we share.
Now, I would like to invite my friend and fellow minister, Susana Malcorra if she would come up to the stage for her remarks. Thank you all very much. (Applause.)
Source: U.S. State Department.