Environmentalist Criticises Icelandic Prime Minister’s Speech at COP26 Conference

Katrín Jakobsdóttir climate conference Glasgow COP26

The Icelandic Youth Environmentalist Association’s Climate Representative Finnur Ricart told Fréttablaðið he was very disappointed by the keynote speech made by Icelandic Prime Minister Katrín Jakobsdóttir at the COP26 climate conference in Glasgow, Scotland yesterday. He criticises the Icelandic government for not wanting to declare a climate emergency, something activists have long been calling for. Finnur adds that the measures to fight climate change that Katrín outlined do not go far enough considering the science she herself cites.

In her speech, Katrín stated that the scientific data on climate change was more convincing than ever and showed that the Paris Agreement was not enough to respond to climate change. She stated that while Iceland has made progress in fighting climate change it was always possible to do better, and emphasised shifting over to renewables in ships and aircraft. She added that young people were calling for action “we must listen to them.”

Finnur does not feel heard by Icelandic authorities, however. “I’m just a bit angry, to be honest. The Prime Minister mentioned at the beginning of her speech the science is clearer than ever before and that we are seeing a state of emergency developing around the world. Yet the government still does not want to declare a state of emergency in climate issues in Iceland and the goals that Katrín outlined directly afterwards are not close to enough in the context of the science to which she refers,” Finnur stated.

Finnur stated that the world needs to reduce emissions by 50% by 2030 in order to keep global warming within 1.5°C, but according to Iceland’s updated national contribution within the EU climate goals, Iceland will probably be allocated a 40% contraction. “It is just not acceptable for a rich nation in a privileged position, as Iceland is, to have lower goals than what the world average needs to be.”

Finnur expressed his wish to see the government listen more to young people and set goals in line with the science they are referencing.

Readers can watch an alternate version of Katrín’s address here.

Stykkishólmur Works to Improve Integration of New Residents

Stykkishólmur - Stykkishólmshöfn - Breiðafjörður - Snæfellsnes

The West Iceland municipality of Stykkishólmur (pop. 1,193) wants to be more accessible for new residents, especially those of foreign origin, RÚV reports. The municipal authorities have appointed a task force that will work toward this goal, placing its focus on immigrants. The measures are aimed at the community as a whole, including businesses, social organisations, and municipal services.

“The women’s club, the Lions Club, the sports club,” are just a few examples of organisations that the task force will assist in making more open to new residents, Stykkishólmur mayor Jakob Björgvin Jakobsson stated. The proportion of immigrants in Stykkishólmur is close to the national average, or around 15% of all residents. Nearly one quarter of children in the municipality are bilingual or multilingual, or 23%.

According to Jakob, Stykkishólmur hopes to set up a procedure to help new residents adapt. That procedure would include subsidies for children to join local sports activities and meetings and interviews with other locals that could help new families adjust. “These are the procedures that we are implementing here in Stykkishólmur with the emphasis on multiculturalism.”

Police Review Officer’s Controversial Posts About Victims of Sexual Assault

Reykjavík Capital Area Police are reviewing the case of a police officer who has been criticised for several social media posts about victims of sexual assault. The officer, Aníta Rut Harðardóttir, has since deleted her comments. Aníta also made headlines last year when a news photograph showed her sporting hate symbols on her uniform.

Aníta has deleted a series of comments she made on Facebook in response to the latest #metoo wave in Iceland, where victims have come forward asserting sexual violence at the hands of athletes and other public figures. In one of her posts, Aníta shares an article about Þórhildur Gyða Arnarsdóttir, who was assaulted by a national team football player, and accuses her of “drunken partying.” Another labels feminist activists as an “army of psychos,” calling their statements “nonsense.”

Newly-elected Deputy MP Lenya Rún Taha Karim has harshly criticised Aníta’s posts and demanded that police respond to the case. “This is first and foremost about her expressive her unequivocal views on a specific victim and I find that very inappropriate in and of itself,” Lenya Rún stated. “People look to the police in their worst moments, victims of sexual violence and other crimes, and they must be able to assume that they will resolve their cases on the basis of professionalism and impartiality. This is simply not in that spirit.”

Police responded to last year’s case involving Aníta by implementing rules that ban officers from wearing any symbols on their uniform that were not standard issue. In one of her deleted posts (pictured above) Aníta calls the patches “very controversial and innocent” and shares a photograph of them framed and hung up, presumably in her home.

In a radio interview yesterday, Police Chief Halla Bergþóra Björnsdóttir stated that the force sets extensive requirements on officers due to the nature of the job. While public service employees may express themselves, the Court of Human Rights has stated that it is normal for restrictions to be placed on freedom of expression due to the nature of certain jobs. “The reason for restricting our freedom of expression is that we need to have the public’s trust, and the public needs to be able to trust that we fulfill our responsibilities in a neutral manner.” She did not comment on Aníta’s case as police do not discuss cases involving individual police officers.