No Fatal Traffic Accidents in Iceland This Year

There have been no fatal traffic accidents in Iceland so far this year, Vísir reports. It has been nearly 80 years since the country has reported no fatal traffic accidents this late in the year. An expert says better driver education and higher rates of seatbelt use are among the factors working together to reduce accident mortality in the country.

Over the last decade, the lowest number of traffic-related deaths occurred in 2014 (a total of four) and the highest were 18 deaths in 2016 and 2018. Almost four months into 2019, and no fatal traffic accidents have been reported in the country whatsoever, a remarkable occurence that has not taken place since 1940.

Ágúst Mogensen, an accident prevention specialist, says many factors have led to this positive outcome. A government road safety plan has made efforts to reduce drivers’ mobile phone use, improve driver education, and improve car safety. Ágúst also believes fine hikes have had a positive impact on driver safety. “The average speed has decreased on the roads and seatbelt use has increased.”

Greenhouse Gas Emissions Rose in Iceland

traffic in Reykjavík

Greenhouse gas emissions directly under government responsibility rose by 2.2% between 2016 and 2017, RÚV reports. The data comes from a recent report by the Environment Agency of Iceland. Emissions from road transport, oil use on fishing vessels, domestic animals, refrigeration equipment, and landfills are the main sources of emissions that fall under government resposibility.

The report was submitted yesterday under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and the Kyoto Protocol. It shows that greenhouse gas emissions for which the government is considered responsible have decreased overall by around 5.4% since 2005, but have been relatively steady since 2012, despite efforts to decrease them. A statement from the Environment Agency says the 2016-2017 rise in emissions can be attributed to the increase in tourist numbers and increased consumption.

Road transport biggest source of emissions, and growing

Of the greenhouse gas emissions that fall under government responsibility, road transportation is the largest contributor to the reported increase. Road transport emissions rose by 85% between 1990 and 2017, and 5.5% between 2016 and 2017. Looking at the total emissions that fall under government responsibility, 34% come from road transport, 18% from fishing vessels, 20% from agriculture, and 8% from waste.

Emissions from aluminium and alloy production in Iceland also showed a dramatic increased of 133% since 1990. This industry, however, falls under the EU trading system and is therefore not considered a direct responsibility of the government.

Financial Supervisory Authority Demands Closure of Crowdfunding Website

WOW air

A group purportedly aiming to resurrect WOW air has been ordered to close their crowdfunding website by Iceland’s Financial Supervisory Authority. The site is requesting 10-20,000 shareholders for the purpose of resurrecting the recently-bankrupt airline or founding a new low-cost airline to take its place. RÚV reported first.

According to a statement released by the Financial Supervisory Authority, the crowdfunding initiative does not fulfill the requirements of the Act on Securities Transactions. The statements ends by warning investors that they do not enjoy the same legal protection of their purchases via a private initiative as when they purchase stocks in a company that is registered on the stock market.

WOW’s former CEO Skúli Mogensen says he is in no way connected to the effort but is following closely. WOW air officially ceased operations on March 28, leaving thousands of passengers stranded and some 2,000 locals unemployed.

Number of Sheep in Iceland Decreases Considerably

Icelandic sheep

The number of sheep in Iceland has decreased by around 42,000 since 2016, when the animals numbered 474,704, RÚV reports. In 2018 there were just 432,740 in the country, the lowest number recorded since 1948. Guðfinna Harpa Árnadóttir, chairperson of the Association of Icelandic Sheep Farmers, says the decrease can be largely attributed to the low price of sheep products.

“Farm operation doesn’t balance out, and people have to reduce the number of sheep because of that,” Guðfinna stated. She says the cost of production is much higher than what sheep farmers get paid for their products, and farm incomes have been decreasing. In 2016, product prices fell by 10%, falling by another 35% in 2017. Prices have been fairly steady since that year.

Sheep numbers peaked in 1978 at over 890,000. Guðfinna says sheep numbers are likely to keep falling in the country unless the price of sheep products rises.