Seven years in the making, an ambitious amendment to the Montreal Protocol was adopted in Kigali in the wee hours of the morning last Saturday. Over 170 nations committed to phase out the use of a powerful heat-trapping chemical, which will cut one degree Fahrenheit from the projected increase in atmospheric temperature. With the whole Embassy working tirelessly to support our negotiating team, this diplomatic achievement feels incredibly gratifying – both because it is a big deal in the fight against climate change and also because it feels good to make a contribution, however small, to bend the arc of history in the right direction.
Kigali is our third post with the Foreign Service, and we’ve had a Secretary of State visit at each one, with Secretary Kerry arriving at the end of the weeklong Montreal Protocol conference to help nudge the negotiations over the line. We had met him in Chisinau a couple of years ago, where he literally paused on his way to his plane to greet the Embassy community — the meet & greet was actually held in the VIP lounge of the Chisinau airport, with his plane parked on the tarmac right outside. And Hillary Clinton, when she was Secretary of State, visited Nairobi midway through our Kenya tour.
We brought Munchkin home from school, hoping that he would nap before we went into the Embassy for the meet & greet event, but once he heard that all three of us were going to the Embassy, sleep became an afterthought. He kept bouncing around the house, saying how he was going to the Embassy with mama and papa. He was a bit loopy with exhaustion by the time we arrived, which did not make for a good recipe for success.
Munchkin sat nicely with the other kids at the outset, but as negotiations dragged on and the Embassy event got pushed back, he grew restless. And once he got off the stage there was no getting him back on it. D had to prepare logistics for one of the Secretary’s subsequent meetings, so he had to leave just as the motorcade arrived at the Embassy. S wound up wrestling with Munchkin during the Secretary’s speech and just barely managed to get him out of her arms and into a group photo for a split second before he went back to clinging to her.
The whole event lasted less than fifteen minutes, but considering the gravity of the occasion that brought Secretary Kerry to Kigali, it was an important fifteen minutes carved out of an overwhelmingly hectic day.