The pair were joined by US Ambassador Michael Wood and Volvo executive Jan-Eric Sundgren. Volvo has agreed to enter into a public-private environmental programme aimed at reducing fossil fuel consumption, a programme which is to be co-financed by the Volvo Group and the governments of Sweden and the United States.
According to the US Ambassador, “these are the deals that President Bush and Prime Minister Reinfeldt discussed in the their meeting at the White House in May”.
He also pointed out that it was just the third agreement of its kind entered into by the US Government, following on the heels of similar arrangements with Brazil and China.
“The agreement will make it easier for the United States and Sweden to identify and fund potential breakthroughs in alternative energy technology,” said Michael Wood.
Speaking at a press conference at Rosenbad in central Stockholm, Maud Olofsson noted that “tackling the problem of climate change has become the ‘one big thing’ in recent times, and rightly so”.
In her capacity as Minister for Enterprise and Energy, Olofsson announced that the government was pledging to invest 245 million kronor for the development of green transport technology in the period 2007 to 2010.
“With this broad investment in environmentally friendly vehicles, Sweden will develop an environmentally friendly transport sector, strengthen its position globally and create more domestic jobs,” she said.
Ambassador Wood, who has focused strongly on the issue of global warming during his tenure in Sweden, was generous in his praise of the Centre Party leader.
“I love Sweden and I love working with Minister Olofsson. We realized at an early stage that we had a shared interest in these issues.
“In signing this agreement between our countries and by witnessing this arrangement between Volvo and the Department of Energy, she is showing her personal commitment and the commitment of this government to the growth of green technology,” he said.
Assistant Secretary Karsner expressed the view that the US and Sweden had led the way in the “messy scrum of global dialogue”.
He also stressed that the “international public-private partnership between Volvo and the two governments” represented a novel venture and a possible template for future developments of a similar nature.
Jan-Eric Sundgren spoke of Volvo’s commitments to vehicle development and the increased use of alternative fuels: “We are part of the problem. But we are also part of the solution”. The company’s involvement in the current project was described by Sundgren as “extremely stimulating”.
The American Ambassador expressed his hope that continued co-operation between the two countries might eventually lead to a major technological breakthrough.
“As I’ve said in some of my public speeches, two great automotive inventions came out of Sweden in the last century – the seatbelt and the catalytic converter.
“My dream is that cooperation between the US and Sweden will lead us to discover the seat belt of alternative energy, some innovation that becomes so essential, so ubiquitous, that we can’t remember a time before we had it,” he said.