Obama admitted, however, that any deal would nevertheless fall short of resolving the world’s environmental problems.
Obama said climate change was the main issue he discussed with visiting Swedish Prime Minister ahead of an US-EU summit on Tuesday that is likely to also take up Afghanistan and the global economic situation.
Sweden holds the rotating European Union presidency and is a key player in next month’s climate change conference.
“We are confident that if all countries involved recognize this is a unique opportunity, that we can get an important deal done, not (one) that solves every problem on this issue but takes an important step forward and lays the groundwork for further progress in the future,” Obama told a joint White House press conference with Reinfeldt.
Reinfeldt said EU-US cooperation was vital in putting a two-degree Celsius cap on global temperature rise since the start of the industrial revolution.
But Obama’s comments suggested that after two years of discussions the UN conference next month in the Danish capital would not produce a successor treaty to the Kyoto Protocol, which was adopted in 1997 and entered into force in 2005.
Despite Obama’s efforts to break with the policies of his predecessor George W. Bush, Europeans think Americans have not done enough and worry that the US Congress will fail to pass a bill limiting greenhouse gases emissions before the end of the year.
In addition to the Swedish leader, the EU will be represented at Tuesday’s talks by European Commission president Jose Manuel Barroso and EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana.
On Afghanistan, Obama stressed Europe’s important contribution in restoring order, training a police force and improving farming in Afghanistan.
Steering clear of the thorny issue of European involvement in combat missions, Obama said that with continued European “contributions on the civilian front… we think that we can see real progress” in Afghanistan.
Obama is in the midst of a protracted review of US strategy in Afghanistan, and must soon decide whether to send more US troops to try to stem a deteriorating security situation.
On the world economic downturn, Obama again emphasized the need for continued US-EU cooperation even as conditions stabilize.
“I think Fredrik would agree that it is absolutely critical that we continue to coordinate closely when it comes to our economic policies to assure that we are moving in a direction of more robust growth that creates more jobs in the United States and in Europe, and that we continue to shy away from any protectionist measure,” Obama said.
Neither Obama or Reinfeldt mentioned the dollar’s steady fall against the euro that favours US exports but hurts Europe’s, to the great concern of all its leaders.
Obama and his EU guests on Tuesday will also discuss Iran’s controversial nuclear program.
Reinfeldt has now met with two sitting US presidents during his tenure as Sweden’s prime minister. In May 2007, Bush welcomed Reinfeldt to Washington for talks on the climate, trade, and other issues.