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Iceland to join EU’s carbon reduction program

My latest post on the THINK platform. Would you believe that pollution in Reykjavík has exceeded health safety levels 15 times in the last 24 hours?

No doubt I am like most THINKers, keeping a close watch on the proceedings in Copenhagen. It’s hard to know what to say about it until something definitive is reported – as yet, I find the news from the conference rather limited, focusing on the big issues like the walkout by the developing countries and the organizational fiasco, and heavy on the commentary without any concrete news. Which I figure must either mean that a) there is too much to report and they just can’t get their head around it, or b) there is not much to report, yet.

That said, the Icelandic Ministry of the Environment DID report something concrete today, namely that it has reached an agreement with the Council of the European Union for a, quote “joint fulfillment agreement with the EU for the emission reduction commitments that the EU and Iceland may undertake in the framework of a future international climate agreement,” unquote.

Wading through the Institutionalese, I gather this means that Iceland will be under the EU umbrella when it comes to carbon emissions, both in terms of reductions AND the cap-and-trade agreements.

Read the rest of it here.

IT’S TURNED A BIT COOLER, BUT THE SMOG PERSISTS
And it’s mainly because all these people are driving around with studded tires on their cars because they’re still back in the dark ages when we actually used to have snow and ice on the roads in the winter, as opposed to now when we only have those conditions maybe three days a year [here in the capital at least]. Bah. And the rest of us have to stay away from major traffic arteries and some are having respiration problems, and even YT can feel a definite and unpleasant irritation in the throat. This is supposed to persist for the next few days, after which you can start calling me Alda Asphaltlung. Right now a somewhat cool 2°C [37F]  as compared to the last few days at least, sunrise was at 11.15, sunset at 15.29.

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  • BRADSTREET December 16, 2009, 12:16 am

    Well, unlike the ongoing ‘GREAT IWR GLOBAL WARMING DEBATE’ I suspect that most people are going to agree that something has to be done about this. Smog is a danger in all big modern cities, and whatever needs to be done to reduce it, must be done. I just hope that the EU employs the carrot more than the stick. Any solution is going to cost big bucks…

  • kevin o'connor waterford Ireland December 16, 2009, 2:06 am

    Smog in Reykjavik what a achievement !!, population 200,000 and plus a very windy country, all the videos I have seeen on youtube always have that wind in the microphone sound, But what would I know having never been there. We never get smog in Ireland ,as the Saudi’s are to Oil we are to rain which washes everything out including me when I get caught in it. As to Copenhagen I hope the whole thing is untrue as they will just tax us to bits and if it is true then humanoids on planet blue will not be able to get their act together, peak of emissions globally by 2015 -Thats 5 yrs !!!, rich countries to do 40% by 2020 everyone happy and glorious on 90% by 2050, come on people ! all 9 billion by then plus me celebrating my 90th birthday, Oops my grandfolks died at 87,88 etc scrub that last comment.

  • Joerg December 16, 2009, 9:41 am

    I have read, that many parts of the new Boeing 787 Dreamliner are made of carbon fibre instead of aluminium to reduce weight. As the aluminium industry is always very boastful about usage of aluminium in hightech products, they might have to resort to less glorious application in the future – soft drink cans and candy wrappers. Another reason to be careful about building new aluminium smelters, which are a main contributor to emissions of greenhouse gases, their time might be over sooner than expected.     

  • Petri Aho December 16, 2009, 10:28 am

    It’s just sad that in the end it’s always the regular people who end up paying the bill. The rich will still keep getting richer. Companies will just compensate extra costs with higher prices, lower salaries and job cuts to make sure their owners profits and managers bonuses won’t be affected by such menial things as saving the planet.

  • Nik December 16, 2009, 10:39 am

    Up here in Eyjafjörður I finally put the studded tyres on the car about a month ago when we got the first real snow of the winter. I always hold off as long as possible because I don’t want to tear up the roads – they’re bad enough from everyone else tearing them up. Unfortunately the snow lasted a few days and then disappeared, leaving me to tear up the roads with the rest of them. 🙁

  • James December 16, 2009, 11:21 am

    The Council of the European Union merely noted the Icelandic Ministry of the Environment’s request and invited the European Commission to recommend opening negotiations. Reaching actual agreements seems a long way away.

  • Paul H December 16, 2009, 11:40 am

    Smog? Ugh.
    I guess it makes sense given the type of vehicles in Reykjavik and the density of the population as compared to the rest of Iceland.
    It needs to be fixed, I wholeheartedly agree.

  • alda December 16, 2009, 12:56 pm

    Thanks, all.

    James – Major props for understanding the legalese! But that’s in conflict with what the Ministry reports on their website, then.

  • Mike December 16, 2009, 1:19 pm

    @ Joerg December 16, 2009 at 9:41 am
    ‘As the aluminium industry is always very boastful about usage of aluminium in hightech products, they might have to resort to less glorious application in the future’

    Sorry mate, demand for aluminium is growing; amongst other things it is increasingly substituting for steel in car bodies.

    Landsvirkjun might have the right idea though in promoting the development of plants turning out solar silicon and using their power (and Iceland’s endless supply of bitterly cold winds) to run computer server farms. Have there been any developments on this front? Last year the BBC went to Keflavik to see the site of Verne Global’s proposed server farm but I’ve heard nothing since.

  • James December 16, 2009, 3:07 pm

    Alda – Well, the wording of the Council of the European Union’s press release is extremely precise. I’ve no idea about the Icelandic Ministry of the Environment news item, but it has lots of impressive letters like ð 🙂

  • Simon Brooke December 19, 2009, 3:00 pm

    I wouldn’t worry too much about the aluminium smelters, actually. The Icelandic aluminium smelters are powered by geothermal and hydro-electric; consequently they aren’t burning fossil fuel, as aluminium smelters elsewhere in the world have to do. So, per kilo of aluminium smelted, this is ‘clean’ aluminium (relatively) and represents a net saving of carbon for the world – provided that that aluminium would have been smelted somewhere in the world anyway.

    This isn’t to defend the Kárahnjukar/Reyðarfjördur scheme, which doesn’t seem like a good deal for Icelanders and does involve the destruction of a great deal of wilderness; but relatively low-carbon aluminium is one of the genuinely good things that Iceland can positively contribute to the world’s economy, and is a good way of embodying and exporting Iceland’s relative wealth in renewable energy. It also provides some jobs, both in construction and in running the plants – real jobs based on something tangible, not just playing sophisticated mathematical games with imaginary money.

    Of course, if the profits all go abroad to foreign owners and Iceland is left with an environment polluted with heavy metal wastes and other poisons, this isn’t necessarily a good thing for Iceland,

    Meantime here in Scotland it’s -4 Celsius; I’ve just got back from cycling to the shops for my groceries (26Km round trip) and it’s a wee bit chilly out there.

    We’ve burned around a tonne of firewood in this house in the past three weeks, which shows how cold it’s been – normally we don’t have the big stove lit until January; once again, if we were in the Reykjavik area we would be using geothermal. Wood burning may be carbon neutral – since it releases ‘current account’ carbon, rather than fossil carbon, and the carbon released will be absorbed by the trees we plant to replace the ones that are felled – but it also releases particulates and in urban areas would contribute to smog. Iceland really is rich – particularly in this post-Copenhagen world – in its access to carbon-neutral energy.

  • alexoutside December 19, 2009, 9:00 pm

    But Alda, you were in favour of studded tyres a few weeks ago…http://icelandweatherreport.com/2005/11/skidding.html
    😉