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Climate Change in Iceland

 

The Icelandic Climate Action Plan 

The second version of the Climate Action Plan was presented by the Government of Iceland in June 2020. The plan builds on the first version but introduces some new elements and focus areas. 

The Climate Action Plan is Iceland´s contribution to the objectives of the Paris Agreement. The aim of the plan is to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases and to lay the foundation for the goal of carbon neutral Iceland in 2040.  

If successfully implemented, the Action Plan is expected to reduce emissions from the sectors not covered by the European Trading Scheme by 35 percent. In addition, a further 5-11 percent reduction can be expected from those measures that still remain to be quantified, which brings the potential for total reductions up to 40-46 percent.
The Action Plan is a holistic plan consisting of 48 concrete measure, thereof 15 new measures that have been added since the first version of the Plan. The government has emphasized the need to start implementing the measures quickly and the implementation of 28 measures has already started.  

The first version of the Climate Action Plan was launched in the fall of 2018. In the updated version comments from an open and transparent consultation process have been taken into consideration, specific measures have been developed further and new ones have been added. Additionally, a thorough analysis of the potential benefits of the different measures has been conducted. 

The Action Plan is divided into sections depending on how the measures are linked to Iceland´s international commitments as well as from which sources the emissions originate. There is more focus on low-carbon commute, such as walking and cycling, waste management gets more attention than in the first version and there is emphasis on measures where the public sector acts as a role model. 

New measures that were added to the plan following the consultation process include measures to increase domestic vegetable production, to increase ecofriendly rental cars, and to support energy transition in heavy transport. Furthermore, measures to capture carbon from industrial processes, to improve feeding of livestock to reduce methane emissions, and to reduce emissions from the construction sector, were introduced. 

The Action Plan is compiled by a steering committee for climate action with representatives from the Prime Minister´s Office, Ministry of Finance and Economic Affairs, Ministry of Industry and Innovation, Ministry of Transport and Local Government, Ministry of Education, Science and Culture, The Icelandic Association of Local Authorities and the Ministry for the Environment and Natural Resources, whose representative chairs the committee.  

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The Environmental Agency of Iceland

The Environmental Agency's role is to promote the protection as well as sustainable use of Iceland’s natural resources, as well as public welfare by helping to ensure a healthy environment, and safe consumer goods. The Agency presents annual National Inventory Report (NIR) on the emission of greenhouse gases to the European Union and the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in accordance with Iceland’s commitments regarding climate change. 

Iceland’s accounting of air emission of greenhouse gases covers both greenhouse gas emission and carbon sequestration from the atmosphere in accordance with international commitments.  

In 2018, the total emission of greenhouse gases was 4,857 kilo tonnes of CO2-equivalents (ESR), an increase of 30% from 1990. The emission peaked in 2008 at 5.241 kilo tonnes of CO2-equivalents. The latest National Inventory Report was issued in April 2020.

 

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