Statement of Daniel A. Reifsnyder
Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Environment and Sustainable Development
22nd Meeting of the Parties of the Montreal Protocol
November 10, 2010
High Level Segment
Thank you Mr. President. Mr. President, Executive Secretary Gonzalez, Ministers, colleagues, and friends. As we meet here today to move forward the work of the Montreal Protocol, it is well to recognize the past achievements of this institution, along with those who have brought us to this point. We owe a great debt of gratitude to those who advanced the goals of the Montreal Protocol and served this body selflessly with conviction and a sense of purpose. It is in this spirit that I would ask that we remember in particular the late K. Madhava Sarma.
The successes of the Montreal Protocol are truly remarkable. Through cooperative efforts, we have made great progress in meeting the environmental challenge that led to the creation of this body -- protection of the stratospheric ozone layer. It now appears that the human-caused damage to the ozone layer is gradually reversing as a direct result of the Montreal Protocol.
In addition, by taking action on the use of ozone-depleting substances, we have also contributed meaningfully to the mitigation of climate change. Nearly five years worth of global greenhouse gas emissions have been avoided as a result of our efforts. Everyone who has contributed to the work of the Protocol should feel honored to be a part of such a widely respected and effective instrument.
But, our work is far from over. Progressively phasing out the use of ozone-depleting substances is important and necessary. But our good work has led inadvertently to another very real problem. We are rapidly replacing these chemicals with substances that have detrimental effects on the climate system. And it makes no sense to laud the greatness of our achievements on the one hand, while ignoring these unintended consequences on the other.
Fortunately, the elements of the Montreal Protocol that make it a powerful instrument for reversing depletion of the ozone layer -- scientific expertise, universal participation, technical and financial assistance to developing countries – now provide us the tools needed to ensure an environmentally sound transition out of substances detrimental to the climate system.
Phasing down hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) through the Montreal Protocol, as we have proposed with our colleagues in Canada and Mexico, is a reasonable and responsible solution to a problem partially exacerbated by this body. The opportunity before us is unique. Uncertainty and differences of opinion did not prevent us from taking bold action to protect the ozone layer in the past. And the opportunity we have before us today demands equally bold action.
We can prevent the undoing of our accomplishments. Every country in the world is a party to this treaty and we have at our disposal the necessary tools and expertise. We recognize that there are challenges to the adoption of new ideas in an institution with a long-standing tradition of consensus-based decision-making. But we will not tolerate inaction based solely on bureaucratic excuses. The global community cares not where action on climate change is taken: only that it is taken. In a few weeks the countries represented here will gather in Cancun to take head on the challenge of climate change and we owe it to the world to do our part to support the efforts ongoing in that forum. With this, I ask that the distinguished delegates in this room consider our future work of the Montreal Protocol, that we take seriously the opportunities before us and that we continue to work together in the open and thoughtful manner that has allowed us to come this far. Thank you Mr. President.