Thank you so much, Prime Minister. Thank you for those very strong words, and more than that, thank you for the commitment that Denmark has made and the leadership that Denmark continues to show in this important area. Mr. Speaker, thank you for welcoming us to the Parliament. I served in our United States Senate for eight years and it’s a great pleasure to be on this side of the government, and thank you for having us. I also wish to thank the premier of Greenland for being here. Thank you for adding this event to your very busy itinerary while you’re here in Denmark.
I’m also very grateful to the leaders of both the American chamber as well as the Confederation of Danish Industries and to all of you who are here for this 2012 meeting of the Green Partnership for Growth. It’s a great honor to join you because we think this is one of the highest priorities of any nation, and certainly of all nations working together. And I appreciate the attention that our American Ambassador, Laurie Fulton, and the staff from the U.S. Embassy here in Copenhagen has been placing on this.
We have tried to make green growth a center of our diplomacy here because we think we have a lot to learn from Denmark. It is certainly not a surprise that Denmark leads the world when it comes to clean energy and energy efficiency. Because, as the prime minister said, for the past few decades, Denmark has grown economically. As you have also made it clear, that can be done without significantly increasing your electricity use. Your national plan to be completely independent of fossil fuels by 2050 is a global first. And in true Danish fashion, the plan is comprehensive and rigorous. (Laughter.)
But I believe if any country can do this, it’s yours. So we are here to learn and listen and support. But the ambitious plan that you have set for 2050 is just the latest in your efforts on climate change – your commitment to reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 40 percent in 2020. And it is for me, personally, inspirational to see government and business working so closely together, because I do think this is a win-win. The green economy has so many opportunities not only for national purposes, but for exports and other ways of building the green market globally.
In fact, I know in 2009, when I was last here at the UN Climate Conference with President Obama, we brought a number of American companies with us, and many of them came home and told us we had no idea how many opportunities there are in Denmark for business partnerships in green tech, and some of those businesses are represented here today. So the word spread, and our team at the Embassy began bringing Danish and American businesses together. In 2010, we had a delegation of American companies come, and in 2011, a delegation of Danish companies traveled to the United States.
Now with the Green Partnership for Growth, we are carrying these exchanges forward by joining with the Danish Government to promote more public-private partnerships between our countries. Now the United States has three goals with this initiative. First, we want to help create more opportunities for U.S. companies to export their products and services to Denmark. Second, we want to open the door to more investments by Danish companies in America, which would have mutually beneficial, positive effects, including creating jobs in both. And third, we want to find opportunities for Denmark and the United States to work together to export green tech products and services throughout the world.
Now we know that energy efficiency and the development of clean energy are going to continue to rise in importance as the world grapples with meeting the energy needs of a growing population. So we have every confidence that this industry will thrive well into the future, and we certainly cannot afford to overlook its potential, not if we’re serious about creating jobs and achieving sustainable economic growth.
So we’ve got the growth part of it figured out – if we can get the green part of it actually figured out as well. (Laughter.) We know that we have to decrease our greenhouse gas emissions. If we’re going to fulfill our responsibilities as fellow inhabitants on this planet, we have to work to try to help solve the climate crisis. And the only way to do that that is known to us is to change the way we use energy. We need to be, we should be, more efficient and develop cleaner energy sources. And this partnership should help us.
Now, it’s not that Denmark has the only examples. California, years ago, way back in the 1970s, made decisions about more efficient use of electricity. California’s population has grown in the last 30-plus years. Their output, their gross domestic product, if you will, has certainly grown. They’ve continued to innovate. They’ve seen new industries develop, like those in Silicon Valley, that consume huge amounts of electricity. But their use of electricity statewide has stayed flat, because they’ve had a good framework that was put into place that rewarded energy efficiency and innovation.
Now, at the national level, the United States has implemented a range of actions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. It’s often not well-known, because our legislative approach in the Obama Administration was not able to pass completely through the Congress, but the Administration has gone forward in taking actions. And our new fuel efficiency standards are slated to be among the most aggressive standards in the world. In March, our Environmental Protection Agency put forth the first ever national standards for CO2 emissions from new power plants, the largest stationary source of carbon pollution in the United States, accounting for 40 percent of our emissions.
As the prime minister said, we’ve invested more than $90 billion in clean energy and energy efficiency. We’re more than doubled our installed capacity of wind and solar since 2008. And this year we launched the Climate and Clean Air Coalition, which brings together governments, the private sector and key organizations around the world to work toward reducing short-lived climate pollutants, which cause more than 30 percent of near-term warming. Reducing short-lived pollutants is an important complement to the work we must do to reduce carbon emissions. And I’m delighted, Prime Minister, that Denmark has agreed to join the Climate and Clean Air Coalition.
So this Green Partnership for Growth exemplifies what we call a win-win. As part of our commitment, our countries are going to look for opportunities to make our governments greener. The Danish minister for defense recently returned from a trip to the United States, after having met with officials at the U.S. Department of Defense to discuss ways to make our militaries more energy efficient. We think this is a quite promising area of collaboration.
So we’re looking forward to continuing these conversations, to keep identifying new ways of working together to share our knowledge, increasing bilateral trade and investment. And I want to thank Denmark for agreeing to host the next meeting of this partnership this fall in Copenhagen. And I really admire Denmark’s leadership in creating the Global Green Growth Forum, which is an innovative platform to encourage leaders to do exactly what we’re doing here today to work across sometimes the gaps that divide us between government and the private sector, academia, the not-for-profit civil society, to work toward the same goal.
Thanks to everyone here for being part of what is among the most consequential work we can do together. We have to do this work; there is no doubt about it. As I am sure you are aware, we still have something of a political debate going on in my country, and it is quite remarkable that we still have a hard core of people who refuse to accept either the science or the responsibility that goes along with the science. But I can assure you that despite that, we have continued to move forward, and not only at the governmental level but equally, if not more importantly, at the private sector, business-driven level as well.
We have quite the argument going on back home between natural gas and coal, and many of the utilities that a few years ago used coal, which made up 50 percent of our energy, are now moving toward natural gas. And the United States is becoming a net energy exporter because of natural gas. And we are continuing to make progress. It often is not in the headlines, but it is part of the trend lines that I think in many ways are more important and actually stand the test of time.
Every day when I look at the news, of course I look at the headlines. But I try to find those stories that are sometimes buried that are going to really affect our lives today, tomorrow, far into the future, even going on to generations. And this commitment that Denmark has made and exemplified to clean energy and energy efficiency is certainly one of those, and we are very proud to be your partner.
Thank you very much, friends.