FACT SHEET: U.S.-Nordic Collaboration on Climate Change, the Arctic, and Clean Energy
Today, the leaders of the United States, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, and Sweden marked another major milestone in their leadership in the fight against climate change with the release of a U.S.- Nordic Leader Summit Joint Statement. The Statement builds on a history of collaboration and reinforces commitments made on climate change and the Arctic in 2013. In the Joint Statement released today, leaders recognize that climate change is one of the foremost challenges the world is facing. In particular, the leaders reinforce that no effort should be spared in making concrete progress domestically and abroad over the coming decades by shifting to low carbon economies and creating more resilient communities. The statement reflects cooperation across a number of areas including showing leadership in the Arctic, implementing the Paris Agreement, promoting clean energy cooperation, advancing climate action globally, and promoting energy access. Today’s statement is another indication of the United States’ commitment to Paris and to do everything we can within our borders and beyond to take ambitious actions to address climate change.
The Arctic: The science of climate change in the Arctic is increasingly clear. Temperatures are rising about twice as fast as the global average; thawing permafrost destabilizes the earth on which 100,000 Alaskans live; warmer, more acidic oceans and rivers, and the migration of entire species, threatens the livelihoods of indigenous peoples; and Alaska’s glaciers alone are losing about 75 gigatons of ice each year.
With today’s Joint Statement, the United States, Canada, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, and Sweden have in the last two months alone committed to working towards conditioning commercial activity in the Arctic in part on world-class environmental standards and international and national climate change goals. These seven states account for about half of the Arctic waters where a state has primary rights to explore and use marine resources.
President Obama and the six other leaders, including Prime Minister Trudeau and today the five Nordic leaders, have also committed to advance scientifically-based protection and conservation of ecologically important marine areas, in close consultation with subsistence communities, based on the best available science and traditional and local knowledge. In the case of the United States and Canada, we have committed to set a new long-term conservation goal later this year. Furthering these goals and more will be a key topic at the first-ever Arctic Science Ministerial, which will be held on September 28, 2016—just after the one-year anniversary of President Obama’s historic trip to Alaska. Also today, the White House is issuing a call to action for individuals, organizations, and institutions from all sectors to take new, specific, and measurable steps to help all people better understand and cope with the changing conditions in the Arctic.
Implementing the Paris Agreement: Last month, more than 170 nations signed the Paris Agreement, including the United States, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, and Sweden. To reinforce their commitment, today, Iceland pledged to join the Paris agreement this year and the United States and Norway are reaffirming their commitment to join this year, alongside more than 30 countries that have already joined or have committed to do so this year. In addition, Sweden, Finland, and Denmark are committing to join the Paris Agreement as soon as possible. The leaders also called on countries to formulate and communicate long-term low greenhouse gas emission development strategies, as they implement their respective climate targets
To scale up support to developing countries to implement their respective Nationally Determined Contributions, the United States and the Nordic leaders are also committing to provide leadership on climate finance, including by using public resources to mobilize robust increases in private capital, and to support developing countries in strengthening their adaptation and mitigation efforts.
The joint collaboration announced today builds on a strong U.S. commitment to implement the Paris Agreement at home, including:
- Mid-Century Strategy: The United States reaffirms its commitment to, in 2016, complete a midcentury, long-term low greenhouse gas emission development strategy.
- Support for Transparency: The United States reiterates its pledge of $15 million dollars to the Capacity Building Initiative for Transparency (CBIT) that will support developing countries’ efforts to meet the enhanced transparency requirements under the Paris Agreement.
- Support for Adaptation: The United States reaffirms its pledge to double its grant-based, public climate finance for adaptation by 2020.
Cooperation on Clean Energy: The leaders are committing to scale up the deployment of clean energy. In particular, the leaders are calling for the mobilization of private capital to finance clean energy. To reinforce that commitment, five countries announced they intend to provide funding to institutionalize the Clean Energy Ministerial, a high-level effort by 23 of the world’s major economies and the European Union to accelerate the deployment of clean energy technologies. The United States and Denmark are also announcing a new memorandum to work together in developing offshore wind as a clean and sustainable energy source. This memorandum is a testimony to the strong Transatlantic ties between Denmark and the United States. Today’s statement builds on a series of actions that the United States has taken to drive clean energy research and deployment through Mission Innovation, securing long-term extensions of the production tax credit (PTC) for wind and other renewables and the investment tax credit (ITC) for solar, and issuing eleven commercial wind leases along the Atlantic coast, which when the leases are fully developed, would generate enough energy to power over 4 million homes.
Phasing Down HFCs: The leaders affirmed their commitment to adopt a Montreal Protocol HFC phasedown amendment in 2016 and provide additional support through the Protocol’s Multilateral Fund following adoption of an amendment. Today’s statement is reinforced by actions that the United States is taking to reduce the use and emissions of HFCs. The United States has been working to negotiate a Montreal Protocol HFC phasedown amendment, including putting forth a proposed amendment with Canada and Mexico. Strong international action on HFCs could avoid up to 0.5°C of warming by the end of the century. In terms of domestic actions, in 2014 and 2015, the White House announced a suite of private-sector commitments and other executive actions that will reduce cumulative global consumption of HFCs by the equivalent of more than 1 billion metric tons of CO2 through 2025.
Tackling Carbon Emissions from Aviation: Today, the leaders committed to work together through the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) to reduce international aviation’s climate impact by furthering the development and deployment of sustainable alternative jet fuels, and adopting a strong market-based measure to enable carbon neutral growth from 2020 at ICAO’s fall assembly. Earlier this year, the United States and 22 other countries reached consensus on the first-ever global carbon standards for commercial aircraft. When fully implemented, the standards are expected to reduce carbon emissions more than 650 million tons between 2020 and 2040, equivalent to removing over 140 million cars from the road for a year.
Reducing Methane Emissions: In the Joint Statement, the United States and Nordic countries committed to ensure each country has developed a national methane reduction plan or otherwise identified and implemented enhanced actions to significantly reduce our overall methane emissions, and to expand technical cooperation, where appropriate.
- The leaders pledged to continue to drive down our oil and gas methane emissions, where applicable, through sound regulation, climate targets, and voluntary initiatives. In particular, to strongly encourage companies working within their countries to develop company-wide methane reduction goals, and to join the Climate and Clean Air Coalition (CCAC) Oil & Gas Methane Partnership.
- The Nordic countries welcome the announcement of new U.S.-Canadian methane reduction goal to reduce methane emission from the oil and gas sector 40 – 45 percent below 2012 levels by 2025.
- The Nordic countries pledged their support for the development of a global methane emission goal for the oil and gas sector.
The United States took two domestic actions yesterday to reduce methane emissions from the oil and gas sector. In particular, the Environmental Protection Agency finalized the first ever standards to reduce methane emissions from new, modified, and reconstructed oil and gas sector sources. The final New Source Performance Standards for new and modified sources are expected to reduce the equivalent of 11 million metric tons carbon dioxide and have substantial health benefits. Fulfilling one of the commitments made during the visit of Canadian Prime Minister Trudeau, the United States also took the first step on the path to regulating existing oil and gas operations by issuing for public comment the first draft of an Information Collection Request (ICR) that, once finalized, will require companies operating existing oil and gas sources to provide information to access different regulatory approaches to reduce emissions from these sources.
Collaboration on the Important Role of Forests: The United States and the Nordic countries are determined to cooperate on the important role of forests in addressing climate change by supporting and incentivizing developing country forest partners to conserve, restore and sustainably manage forests, as well as strengthen their respective efforts to combat illegal logging and associated trade. The leaders also committed to facilitate private sector efforts to eliminate deforestation from the production of commodities such as palm oil, pulp and paper, cattle and soy. To reinforce these commitments:
- The United States and Norway are announcing that they will sign a joint statement to reinforce their intention to enhance cooperation on Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation (REDD+) and sustainable landscapes.
- Yesterday, the United States announced the first results of a detailed action plan to reduce emissions and increase carbon storage in soils and forests through the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Building Blocks for Climate Smart Agriculture and Forestry. Through this initiative, USDA committed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and increase carbon stored in forests and soils by over 120 million metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent per year by 2025 and announced yesterday that they are providing more than $70 million in funding for conservation practices that advance this commitment, including for forestry management.
Promoting Energy for All: The Nordic countries and the United States commit to further strengthen efforts to achieve global access to sustainable, reliable, affordable and modern energy for all, consistent with the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. In sub-Saharan Africa alone, more than two-thirds of the population is without access to power. To support a doubling of electricity access in sub-Saharan Africa the United States and Nordic countries have expressed our support for the Power Africa initiative and commit to work together to provide technical assistance, financing, and other support to enable additional investment in energy projects throughout the region. In 2014, Sweden became the first bilateral partner to join Power Africa, committing to catalyze investments of $1 billion dollars in support of our shared goals under Power Africa. In 2015, Power Africa announced a new partnership with Norway, through which Norway is committing to bringing 1,500 megawatts (MW) online over a five-year period, contributing to Power Africa's 30,000 MW electricity generation goal by 2030.