Swedish Environment Minister Andreas Carlgren told journalists at a meeting of EU energy and environment ministers that he welcomed US President Barack Obama's efforts to fight global warming, but called on the United States to do even more.
"We welcome that the ambitions have changed dramatically compared to the previous administration, but still we expect more and we need more," he told reporters at a mountainside meeting held in central Sweden.
Sweden took over the six-month presidency of the European Union earlier this month and is helping to pave the way for tough talks on a major climate deal in Copenhagen this December which would replace the Kyoto Protocol after it expires in 2012.
The French government last month criticised the United States and Canada for being too slow, saying they needed to do more to tackle greenhouse gases.
It warned that Canada and the United States were not on course to cut emissions by the level needed, making it difficult for rich nations to meet the 25-40% collective reduction in greenhouse gases recommended by the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).
Carlgren said it was encouraging that a bill which seeks to reduce US emissions 17% by 2020 and 83% by 2050 from 2005 levels had already been approved by the House of Representatives and was on its way to the Senate.
But European member states have already agreed to slash carbon emissions by at least 20% by 2020 from levels in 1990.
"We see within that bill the possibilities of raising the ambitions, and we are really urging our American friends to raise their bids and make sure that they can commit to more," he said.
"The EU has so far put 20% on the table but we want that to go higher and we want to bring others with us," he said.
The United States, the world's second-biggest emitter of greenhouse gases after China, signed but never ratified the Kyoto Protocol, a climate treaty to be renewed in global talks culminating at the Copenhagen conference.
Carlgren said global negotiations ahead of Copenhagen were still moving too slow.
"We want to speed up and the EU is now urgently calling on other parties to join us and to make sure that we can speed up and negotiations," he said.
(EurActiv with Reuters.)