Cars With Studded Tires Pollute 40 Times More

smog

Studded tires are a major factor in particulate pollution, RÚV reports. Þorsteinn Jóhansson, an expert at the Environment Agency of Iceland, presented the data in an open meeting today on the impact of studded tires on air quality and road surfaces.

“A car with studded tires wears down [the road] many times over compared to a car without studded tires. That is 20-40 times more. That is not 20-40% more, rather at least 2000% more,” Þorsteinn stated. High levels of particulate pollution occur regularly in Reykjavík in the spring, when the weather is still, road surfaces are dry, and drivers have not yet switched over to summer tires.

While Þorsteinn stated that it is clearly in the interest of those responsible for road maintenance to reduce the use of studded tires, he admitted that the need for such tires varies. “Especially people who live out in the countryside or people who are driving from Selfoss over Hellisheiði. There will certainly be days when it is better to be on studded tires, such as when there is wet ice, then studded tires have the advantage.”

He pointed out that in Norway, a studded tire tax has been imposed to reduce their negative impact. “Studded tires are not banned anywhere in Norway, but there are fees in certain towns, so it is each municipality that decides and there has been an economic incentive to reduce the use of studded tires.” Those who live in the countryside and drive into Oslo can buy a studded tire “passport,” which can be an annual, monthly, or daily pass. Þorsteinn believes such a system could work in Iceland.

“If there is permission to charge, it would certainly only be municipalities in the capital area that would use it. Residents of Ísafjörður would never impose a fee for studded tires.”

Two Additional Film Studios to Rise in Reykjavík

Katla Netflix

Reykjavík Studios Purchases a 4,000 square metre building in the Gufunes district of Reykjavík yesterday in which the company plans to build two state-of-the-art film studios, RÚV reports. Director Baltasar Kormákur says that when renovations are completed, it will be possible to film blockbusters like Harry Potter in Iceland. The project is expected to cost around ISK 1 billion, [$7.7 million; €7 million], and Baltasar hopes it will be completed by the end of the year.

Baltasar’s production company Reykjavík Studios has made a name for itself with many successful television series and films, including Trapped and Katla. The company already has a studio next door to the purchased building, where this year’s Söngvakeppnin competition was filmed. That studio is one of the largest in Europe, and too big for certain projects, according to Baltasar, which is why the new building will be split into two smaller film studios. “There will be a sound-proof wall between them, and there will be two smaller studios that will be more useful for the Icelandic film industry than [our other studio].”

The new studios could also house concerts and events, Baltasar says, but there is much work to be done before that will be possible. “I’m hoping I can put it to use this year,” Baltasar stated. “We are ready to go all-in into construction.”

The studio’s success depends on the government fulfilling its promises regarding reimbursement of film production costs. The current government policy provides a 25% reimbursement of all filming production costs incurred in Iceland, both for local and international production companies.

Renters’ Financial Burden Heavier than Homeowners’ in Iceland

building construction cranes Garðabær

Nearly one quarter of households in Iceland had difficulty making ends meet last year, new figures from Statistics Iceland show. The figure has never been lower and corresponds with an increase in households’ disposable income during the same period. Around 19% of those who were renting considered the financial burden of housing to be heavy last year, compared to 10% of homeowners. Renters were also much more likely to suffer material deprivation than homeowners.

Single adults with children have more difficulty making ends meet

In 2011, 51% of households in Iceland had difficulties making ends meet. Between 2010-2015, the figure was above 40%. In 2021, it measured 24.1%. Households’ gross disposable income is estimated to have increased last year, though high inflation mitigated a rise in purchasing power: in the third quarter of 2021, while households’ gross disposable income rose by around 6.34%, household disposable income per capita only rose by 0.1%.

Households with a single adult and one or more dependent children were more likely to have difficulties making ends meet: around half of them reported that to be the case, while only 16% of households with two or more adults and no children had such financial difficulties.

Renters report a heavier financial burden

Those in rental housing reported more financial difficulties than homeowners last year. While just over 4% of households in Iceland suffered material deprivation, the figure was just under 11% of households on the rental market, compared to only 2.4% of households living in their own property.

Around 22% of Icelandic households lived in rental housing in 2021. This figure has been dropping steadily since 2018, when it was at 31%. Between 2010-2015, a higher percentage of owners regarded their housing as a heavy financial burden, compared to the percentage of renters. Since 2015, the opposite has been true, as seen in the graph below.

According to the survey, a household is considered to suffer from material deprivation if it cannot afford three or more of the following items:

  • To pay rent, mortgage, or utility bills.
  • To keep the home adequately warm.
  • To face unexpected expenses.
  • To eat meat or proteins regularly.
  • To go on a holiday.
  • A television set.
  • A washing machine.
  • A car.
  • A telephone.

If a household cannot afford four or more of the above items, it is considered to suffer from severe material deprivation.