Remarks at the 29th Meeting of the Parties to the Montreal Protocol
Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary, Bureau of Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs
Thank you, Mr. President. It is wonderful to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the Montreal Protocol in its namesake city. Today in the United States we celebrate the Thanksgiving holiday, and we along with all of you are extremely thankful for our predecessors who did the heroic work of establishing the Montreal Protocol three decades ago.
The United States is proud of its long track record of leadership in this body. The United States was among the first countries to ratify the Montreal Protocol, which was approved by the United States Senate without a single dissenting vote. And U.S. industry has led the way, at every stage, innovating to develop new generations of technology that has allowed Parties to meet their Montreal Protocol obligations even while the use of air conditioning and refrigeration has grown rapidly around the world.
The United States views the Montreal Protocol as of one of the world’s most successful multilateral environmental agreements. When he signed the Montreal Protocol, President Reagan said, and I quote: “The Montreal Protocol is a model of cooperation. It is a product of the recognition and international consensus that ozone depletion is a global problem, both in terms of its causes and its effects. The Protocol is the result of an extraordinary process of scientific study, negotiations among representatives of the business and environmental communities, and international diplomacy. It is a monumental achievement.” It is to the credit of everyone in this room that this statement is as true today as it was 30 years ago.
This extraordinary body and the people implementing it have already and will continue to see huge benefits for the environment and the health of people all over the world.
Full implementation of the Montreal Protocol is expected to result in the avoidance of more than 280 million cases of skin cancer, approximately 1.6 million skin cancer deaths, and more than 45 million cases of cataracts in the United States alone, with even greater benefits worldwide.
Truly few institutions in history can boast such a large positive impact.
Another characteristic of this body is tenacity and perseverance to see through long-term commitment. Thirty years ago, we courageously took action on CFCs, which represented the largest and most immediate threat to the ozone layer.
But we didn’t stop there. We knew that while HCFCs were less harmful to the ozone layer than CFCs, we could not adequately protect the ozone layer without action on HCFCs as well. So we agreed to phase out HCFCs.
Each transition has brought us to better, more energy efficient technologies that continue to meet the modern needs of populations in every country, and at the same time improve environmental and health outcomes for all.
And, most recently, we came together again to address the environmental impact of the primary replacements for ozone-depleting substances—HFCs—and adopted the Kigali Amendment.
The United States believes the Kigali Amendment represents a pragmatic and balanced approach to phasing down the production and consumption of HFCs, and therefore we support the goals and approach of the Amendment.
There are a number of steps in our domestic process that we would need to complete before reaching a final decision on transmittal of the Kigali Amendment to the U.S. Senate for its advice and consent.
There is no timeline currently determined for these steps, but we have initiated the process to consider U.S. ratification of the Amendment.
We have enjoyed working with all of you for the past 30 years and look forward to continuing our cooperation. We have much work ahead of us, but we can rely on a strong foundation built by decades of Ozone Heroes. We can, and will, continue that incredible legacy.