Kigali, 13 October 2016
I am very pleased to welcome you to Kigali for this important meeting. I would like to congratulate everyone involved in the preparatory work that has brought us to this point.
We are on the cusp of momentous progress. We have the chance to make a major step forward in the fight to limit the effects of climate change on our environment and our people.
My message to all of us today is a call to ambition: Let’s not only get it done, but also do it well.
A generation ago, human activity had blasted a hole in the ozone layer. Today, thanks to the Montréal Protocol, the ozone is healing.
The world has not gotten poorer in that time. On the contrary, we have experienced the largest expansion of prosperity and well-being ever recorded.
It is hard to understand talk about trade-offs, when in fact there were only gains in every column of the ledger, at least as far as this agreement was concerned.
But our work is not done.
The earliest possible phase-down of hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) will make our world safer and more prosperous.
We should not allow ourselves be satisfied with making a little bit of good progress when it is within our power to actually solve the problem.
We have gone beyond challenging the science of climate change to testing and perfecting the technology for mitigating it, without compromising economic and social progress.
The faster we act, the lower the financial costs will be, and the lighter the environmental burden on our children.
The responsibility to act lies not only with governments, but also with scientists and the private sector. Our job is to provide them the proper incentives and support to do their work.
That begins with a clear signal that change is coming and it is coming soon. In due course, new innovations and products will allow us to phase out HFCs even faster, and at lower cost.
At the same time, we must remember that there are still vast gains to be made in the efficiency of appliances.
Doing so will significantly reduce harmful emissions, up to perhaps another half a degree Celsius, while making our economies more competitive and sustainable.
Let’s make sure that adequate funding is in place to drive the efficiency agenda.
Taking decisive action here in Kigali will inject new energy into the Paris Agreement, increasing confidence that the international community is able to effectively address not only climate change, but many other urgent matters as well.
The key is to work in a spirit of multilateral cooperation and mutual respect. We need more signs of this in our world today.
It never hurts to think big. Let’s come together, find good solutions to any remaining issues, and make history; again, making history together.