Joint Letter to Secretary of State in Support of Kigali Amendment, March 18, 2018

Year Published
  • 2018
  • English

Printable Version

March 7, 2018

The Honorable Rex Tillerson
Secretary of State
U.S. Department of State
2201 C Street, NW
Washington, DC 20520

Dear Secretary Tillerson:

As chairmen of the Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development and Committee on International Justice and Peace of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, we write in support of the Kigali amendment to the Montreal Protocol. This amendment is an important step towards addressing ozone depletion and furthering global environmental stewardship through international collaboration.

The Montreal Protocol, designed to protect the ozone layer by phasing out ozone-depleting substances (ODS), was the first international treaty to reach universal ratification. The United States ratified the Montreal Protocol in 1988 and has ratified its four subsequent amendments. When addressing the Senate on the Treaty, President Ronald Reagan celebrated the fact that "the United States played a leading role in the negotiation of the Protocol," suggesting that "early ratification by the United States will encourage similar action by other nations whose participation is also essential." The Treaty proved to be extremely successful: the fast recovery of the ozone layer delivered worldwide health benefits and had a minimal impact on industry.

Once again, the United States has the opportunity to play a leading role in global environmental stewardship by ratifying the Kigali amendment. This amendment seeks to control a new class of substances - hydrofluorocarbons or HFCs - and calls for their progressive phase out over the next few decades. There are now several viable alternatives to HFCs and some countries have already begun early implementation. Many industry stakeholders have endorsed the Kigali amendment, including many U.S. companies, since doing so would help them remain competitive in the global marketplace. It is encouraging that the Administration has already taken steps to meet with industry representatives on this topic and has stressed the importance of safeguarding economic and commercial interests.

In his encyclical letter on the environment, Laudato Si', Pope Francis said that "interdependence obliges us to think of one world with a common plan" (no. 164) and called for "a new and universal solidarity" (no. 14).  Decisive action by the United States in support of the amendment will be a sign of our nation's moral leadership and solidarity. It will also demonstrate that broad support for international environmental agreements is possible and that policy proposals modeled on the Montreal Protocol can be successful.  The Protocol addressed toxic air pollutants discretely and incrementally, with all stakeholders at the table. We urge you to support the Kigali amendment and to submit it to the Senate for ratification.

Sincerely yours,

Most Reverend Frank J. Dewane
Bishop of Venice
Chair, Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development
United States Conference of Catholic Bishops

Most Reverend Timothy P. Broglio
Archbishop for the Military Services, USA
Chair, Committee on International Justice and Peace
United States Conference of Catholic Bishops