Sustainability Conference Centres Around Iceland’s Climate Goals

katrín jakobsdóttir prime minister iceland

Prime Minister Katrín Jakobsdóttir and Mayor of Reykjavík Dagur B. Eggertsson met today with other ministers and officials for the founding of the Council for Sustainability.

The meeting was held at 14:00 today in the House of Collections.

Read more: Iceland Lagging Behind on Climate

Pursuant to Iceland’s being a signatory of the Paris Agreement, Iceland is obligated to cut greenhouse emissions by 40% by 2030. Additionally, Icelandic policy aims to achieve carbon neutrality by 2040. Mechanisms exist to incentivize the fulfilment of these goals, and if Iceland fails in this, then the consequences may prove costly.

Although heating and electricity are covered by renewable energy, much of Iceland’s energy goes towards energy-intensive industries, such as aluminium smelting. Iceland is still also very dependent on cars, especially in rural parts of the country.

Prime Minister Katrín Jakobsdóttir gave a speech at the meeting, calling for a more ambitious approach to Iceland’s climate goals.

The Council of Sustainability will be chaired by the Prime Minister, and will work in cooperation with local municipalities, parliament, NGOs, and private companies.

According to Katrín Jakobsdóttir, the energy transition must be a top priority, but it must also act as a “guiding light in all areas of society.”

Read more of our coverage of Icelandic conservation efforts here

First Female Pilot in Iceland Retires After 38 Years of Flight

female pilots icelandair

Sigríður Einarsdóttir landed today for the last time at Keflavík International Airport.

Sigríður Einarsdóttir was the first female commercial airline pilot in Iceland. Her 38-year career paved the way for many other women in Icelandic aviation.

Her Boeing 757, designated Vatnajökull, her favourite plane to pilot according to Vísir, touched down early in the morning yesterday. Passengers reported an “exceptionally smooth” landing.

She was greeted by a reception of other female Icelandair pilots who celebrated her long, pioneering career in aviation.

Not Ready to Stop Flying

Sigríður’s career began in 1984 aboard a Fokker F27 turboprop, and three years later, on the airline’s new jets. In 1996, she became a full captain.

At her reception, Sigríður stated: “I don’t think that it’s really sunk in yet that this was the final landing. It was only on the final approach that I really realized that this had been my last flight, on a jet at least.”

Although she’s retiring, she has no intention to stop flying: “I don’t think I’m done. It’s just so much fun to fly. Now I just need to go renew my private license and get back into smaller planes.”

After her 1984 start, Sigríður recalls that she was the only female pilot for the first five years of her career. “After ten years, there were three of us,” she said. “After twenty years, the tenth woman was hired.” Now, she says, there are some 77 altogether.

Despite the progress made by Sigríður, aviation is still largely a male industry in Iceland, with 13% of Icelandic pilots being women.

“This isn’t a man’s job anymore,” she said in her farewell address. “We’ve shown and proved this.”


Iceland Opens Embassy in Poland

minister of foreign affairs iceland

Foreign Minister Þórdís Kolbrún Reykfjörð Gylfadóttir is in Warsaw today for the opening of Iceland’s embassy there.

In a statement to Morgunblaðið, the minster said: “”The deep respect and friendship that exist between Iceland and Poland is of great value to Iceland, and it is with pride that I take part in opening our embassy in Warsaw on the day of Icelandic Sovereignty.”

In her statement, she also pointed out that Poland has had an embassy in Iceland since 2013, and that some 20,000 Polish citizens reside in Iceland, accounting for 40% of all immigrants in Iceland.

Read more: Iceland to Open Embassy in Warsaw this Autumn

The minister also stated:

“Today the Icelandic embassy in Warsaw will be opened, on the day Icelanders celebrate their sovereignty in 1918. Around the same time, at the end of 1918, an independent and sovereign Poland was rising from the ruins of the First World War. Iceland recognized the Republic of Poland in January 1922 – exactly a century ago – and diplomatic relations officially began in 1946.

Since the end of the Second World War, the relations between the countries have been strong and growing in many areas. The most important thing in my mind is that a large number of people from Poland and of Polish origin have enriched Icelandic society by settling here for a longer or shorter period of time. […]

Poland has had an embassy in Iceland since 2013, and our relations on many joint platforms are exemplary. However, it is not just to maintain reciprocal relations I made the decision to open an embassy in Warsaw, but I recognize the fact that Poland is one of the leading countries in Europe in cultural, political, scientific and economic terms.”

Read more about Iceland’s Polish community here.


November One of the Warmest Ever

weather iceland

Although this November has been one of the warmest on record, it has not quite broken any records.

Much of Iceland has experienced unusually warm temperatures for this time of year, with no snow so far in the capital region. 

In a recent Facebook post, Meteorological Office specialist Einar Sveinbjörnsson published a short report, stating that ultimately, the record was not broken.

In Reykjavík, the average temperature for November was 5.1°C (41°F). While not an all-time record, it is nevertheless the highest average temperature for November in the 21st century. The all-time record was in 1945, when average November temperatures reached 6.1°C (43°F).

Likewise, it was also unusually warm in Akureyri, but not record-breakingly so. The November average was recorded at 4.2°C (40°F), with an all-time record of 4.8°C (41°F) in 1956. However,  Einar notes that an error in data entry may have affected the number for this month.

When asked by Vísir whether these unusual temperatures were anomalies or parts of a larger trend, Einar stated: “The short answer is that it is anomalous, and that we do get these warm Novembers every decade or so. But on the other hand, if these patterns, which we know so little about, begin to accelerate, then we can begin to talk about climate change.”