With all the news about the Syrian Civil War, many people may not have realized that President Barack Obama is actually in Sweden holding a bilateral conference with Swedish Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt. The reason this pertains to green living is that one of the topics on the table is the success of Sweden's renewable energy industry, and the lessons that the United States can learn from it.
Like many Scandinavian countries, Sweden is particularly progressive (and aggressive) when it comes to sustainability and environmentalism, and nowhere is this better demonstrated than its renewable energy portfolio. The country derives 47 percent of its power from renewable sources, and much of the remainder comes from nuclear reactors.
As political news site ThinkProgress points out, this didn't happen by accident. Sweden began a concerted effort in the 1950s to move its energy infrastructure in a more sustainable direction. In 1991, the Swedish government instituted a carbon tax of $133 per ton emitted. This policy, along with heavy investment in biofuels and a general lack of reliance on coal, gives Sweden one of the lowest carbon footprints for any developed country.
During a joint press conference with Prime Minister Reinfeldt, President Obama listed Sweden's commitment to energy sustainability as one of the areas from which the United States could learn a lot. The same could be said of many European countries, which have done a much better job persuading citizens that it is vital to their economic wellbeing and independence that they develop a dynamic renewable energy portfolio. Hopefully the president's visit will push the debate in such a direction.