Secretary of State John Kerry said in Vienna on Friday that air conditioners and refrigerators are as big of a threat to life as the threat of terrorism posed by groups like the Islamic State.
The Washington Examiner reported that Kerry was in Vienna to amend the 1987 Montreal Protocol that would phase out hydrofluorocarbons, or HFCs, from basic household and commercial appliances like air conditioners, refrigerators, and inhalers.
“As we were working together on the challenge of [ISIS] and terrorism,” Kerry said. “It’s hard for some people to grasp it, but what we–you–are doing here right now is of equal importance because it has the ability to literally save life on the planet itself.”
Kerry said that most of the substances banned in the Montreal Protocol have increased the use of HFCs and claimed that the coolant was thousands of times more potent than CO2. He added that the increase of HFCs has lead to the trend of global climate change.
“The use of hydrofluorocarbons is unfortunately growing,” Kerry said. “Already, the HFCs use in refrigerators, air conditioners, and other items are emitting an entire gigaton of carbon dioxide-equivalent pollution into the atmosphere annually. Now, if that sounds like a lot, my friends, it’s because it is. It’s the equivalent to emissions from nearly 300 coal-fired power plants every single year.”
Members of the Montreal Protocol have met their obligations and have aided in the shrinking of the hole in the ozone, as well as created jobs and improved the quality of life, Kerry said.
Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Gina McCarthy was also present at the negotiations and is serving as the lead negotiator for the United States. McCarthy has said that her goal is to enact the HFC agreement by the end of the year.
New EPA rules along with the global deal would band HFCs in the United States and push for alternative chemicals for use in appliances. The negotiations are part of President Obama’s climate agenda to combat global climate change.