Speaking Friday in Vienna at an international climate change conference, Kerry said the issue might not get as much public attention as terrorism but that the meeting is as important as a gathering he hosted only Thursday in Washington on combatting the Islamic State.
"What you are doing here right now is of equal importance, because it has the ability literally to save life on this planet," Kerry told the conference of parties to the 1987 Montreal Protocol, a global treaty to end the use of many chlorofluorocarbons from aerosols and refrigerants that deplete the ozone layer.
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Treaty members have claimed some success - including a healing of an ozone hole over Antarctica. They are now trying to adopt an amendment that would phase out substances that replaced chlorofluorocarbons, called hydrofluorocarbons. They trap more heat than carbon dioxide but are less plentiful.
Participants in the Vienna meeting hope to find consensus on an amendment that could be adopted at the next meeting of the parties in Kigali, Rwanda, in October.