the WHITE HOUSEPresident Barack Obama

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The White House
Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release

Fact Sheet: The United States and Sweden -- Global Leaders on Clean Energy and Climate Change

The United States and Sweden share a common interest in pursuing innovative approaches to promoting clean energy and taking action on climate change, both domestically and internationally.  Today, the President visited Sweden’s Royal Institute of Technology to see first-hand some of the innovative technologies being developed in Sweden that can help us reach our goals at home and around the world.  The President will continue to seek opportunities to broaden and deepen our collaboration with Sweden in this important field.

Investing in Clean Energy at Home

Sweden is a global leader in deploying clean energy solutions.  Sweden has had a remarkable journey since the 1970s and transitioned from being a highly oil-dependent country to a leader in clean technology.  Between 1990 and today, Sweden cut its greenhouse gas emissions by 20 percent while enjoying real economic growth of 59 percent.  Sweden has a national vision of becoming an economy with no net emissions of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere by 2050.

Under President Obama, the United States has made unprecedented investments in clean energy, research and development, and renewable fuels.  Last year energy-related U.S. emissions fell to their lowest levels since 1994—a remarkable 12 percent below where we stood in 2005.  This June, President Obama unveiled his Climate Action Plan, which will drive more aggressive action than ever before and help the United States meet its commitment to cut greenhouse gas emissions by around 17 percent from 2005 levels in the context of all other major economies making commitments to reduce their emissions as well.

A Strong Foundation for Action

The United States and Sweden recognize the important role of the United Nations in taking action on climate change.  Our cooperation in that forum is essential to reaching an ambitious and inclusive climate agreement under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change in 2015 that is consistent with science and applicable to all.

In 2006, the United States and Sweden signed a science and technology cooperation agreement pledging scientific cooperation in fields of common interest.  The resulting Joint Commission Meetings has discussed opportunities for collaboration, including in the fields of renewable energy and sustainable transportation.  

The United States and Sweden are founding members and active supporters of the Climate and Clean Air Coalition to Reduce Short-Lived Climate Pollutants, a global partnership to address emissions of black carbon, methane, and hydrofluorocarbons, all of which have major impacts on climate change and public health.

A Dynamic Global Partnership

U.S.-Sweden leadership extends beyond our commitment to sustainable energy at home.  As part of our commitment to accelerating the transition to low-carbon energy systems worldwide, the United States and Sweden have committed to end public financing for new coal-fired power plants overseas, except in rare circumstances. 

Access to electricity continues to be one of the most significant hurdles to economic growth and development.  In sub-Saharan Africa alone, more than two-thirds of the population is without access to power.  The United States and Sweden are working to provide technical assistance, financing and other support to enable additional investment in energy projects throughout the region, including through the recently launched Power Africa initiative.  

The United States and Sweden, as members of the Clean Energy Ministerial, work to actively support initiatives such as the 21st Century Power Partnership, which brings together government and private sector actors to help identify and promote successful technical, policy, and financial pathways to cleaner and more efficient power systems in both developed and developing countries. 

Learning from Each Other

In 2010, the United States and Sweden launched the Swedish-American Green Alliance (SAGA) to promote public-private partnerships between our two countries on clean energy and sustainable development.  SAGA brings together U.S. and Swedish cities, universities, think tanks, students, and businesses to exchange best practices and pursue innovative solutions.

  • In October 2010, the U.S. National League of Cities and the National Association of Swedish Eco-Municipalities signed an agreement under SAGA pledging to promote U.S.-Swedish cooperation among municipalities on sustainability.
  • SAGA has facilitated mayoral exchanges to share best practices on urban sustainability.  Participating cities have included Minneapolis, St Paul, Cleveland, Tallahassee, Portland, and Boulder in the United States and Stockholm, Helsingborg, Huddinge, Sundsvall, and Växjö in Sweden.
  • In 2012, SAGA unveiled a new program named Research on Environmental Action and Clean Tech in U.S. Cities (REACT U.S.).  Every year, REACT U.S. offers five Swedish university students the opportunity to conduct three weeks of research on urban sustainability in the United States.

For the first time this fall, three young professionals from the United States will hold internships focusing on corporate social responsibility at three different Swedish companies under the auspices of the SAGA Trainee Program.