Air conditioners, refrigerators and other devices which use cooling agents harmful to the environment pose as great a threat to the world as terrorism and the Islamic State, said Secretary of State John Kerry in Vienna on Friday.
Speaking to a group of negotiators gathered to work out a global climate deal aimed at phasing out the use of the chemicals, known as hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), Kerry compared their work to the international fight against terrorism, saying that eliminating the threat currently posed by the materials inside household appliances had the potential to “literally save life”.
“Yesterday, I met in Washington with 45 nations – defense ministers and foreign ministers – as we were working together on the challenge of [the Islamic State], and terrorism,” Kerry, a long-time advocate of fighting climate change, told the group.
“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.”
To date, ISIS, a militant Islamic terror group operating in Syria and Iraq, has killed, kidnapped, mutilated and exiled thousands of people, and ISIS-inspired terror attacks throughout the globe have killed and injured hundreds.
The remark raised eyebrows among media networks, which quickly reported it under amused headlines such as “John Kerry warns your refrigerator is as dangerous as ISIS” and “John Kerry compares ‘threat of refrigerators’ to ISIS”.
The team was in Vienna to amend the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer, an international treaty originally ratified in 1987 whose goal was to reduce the emissions of greenhouse gases globally.
The original treaty limited the use of chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) due to their harmful effects on the ozone layer, leading to an increase in the use of HFCs. While HFCs actually help protect ozone layer, they are believed to contribute to global warming.