Bjartur, 19 Years Old, to Play Football in US on Scholarship

Bjartur Eldur Þórsson

19 year old Bjartur Eldur Þórsson is heading to the United States on a full sports scholarship. And according to a recent conversation with Vísir, he intends to go all the way to the NFL

Always having been into sports, Bjartur has played as a wide receiver for the past one and half years for the Einherjar, an American football team based out of Kópavogur.

Bjartur stated to Vísir: “I started in the summer of 2021, so you could say I’m still kind of new to it. I started out in the youth league for Einherjar and worked my way to get a position on the starting team. That summer I was also playing [association] football, but I just found [American] football to be much more exciting.”

Bjartur will be attending studies at the Kiski school, a preparatory school in Pennsylvania. His scholarship is for around 5 million ISK [$35,000; €33,000] a year.

According to Bjartur, he and his father have visited the United States to see football games, from the NFL, to college, and even high school games. “I saw that I could definitely be there, and I thought it was just awesome to get to go and visit,” he said.

Bjartur and his father also received some outside help. Brynjar Benediktsson, an Icelandic [association] football player and founder of Soccer and Education has helped prospective Icelanders find scholarships and positions in the US before, but this was his first foray into American football.

After completing his studies, Bjartur hopes to play football in college, and hopefully even the NFL. His dream team, he stated, was the Baltimore Ravens. “But of course,” he add, “I’m happy to play for anyone!”

For more on American football in Iceland, read our profile of the Einherjar, Iceland’s only American football team, here.

Diljá Chosen to Represent Iceland in Eurovision

diljá iceland eurovision

Diljá will be the next representative of Iceland in Eurovision 2023.

She was selected in the song contest Söngvakeppnin on Saturday. A total some 250,000 votes were cast on the final night of the contest.

Read more: Eurovision Finalists Selected

Diljá, and her winning song “Power,” finished in a strong first place, with nearly 70,000 votes separating her and second place, Langi Seli og Skuggarnir performing their song “OK.”

In total, ten artists competed in the selection process. Semi-finals were held on February 18 and 25, where the Icelandic public could vote by phone, text, or online. During the semi-finals, the artists are required to perform in Icelandic.

However, in the finals, the artists have the choice to perform the song in its intended form for Eurovision, either Icelandic or English. A panel of judges also has a say during finals, with the popular vote being split 50/50.

Her award-winning song was co-authored by Pálmi Ragnar Ásgeirsson. Pálmi has written Eurovision hits before, including the 2015 Icelandic Eurovision entry, “Unbroken.”

Hosting the song contest this year were popular media figures Unnsteinn Manuel Stefánsson, Ragnhildur Steinunn Jónsdóttir, and Sigurður Þorri Gunnarsson.

Diljá will represent Iceland at the Eurovision Song Contest 2023, which takes place this year in Liverpool, England.


Iceland to Buy Emission Allowances to Meet Kyoto Commitments

Foreign Minister Guðlaugur Þór Þórðarsson.

The Ministry of Environment, Energy, and Climate has decided to buy emission allowances from other nations in order to meet its commitments to the Kyoto Protocol, an international environmental treaty to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

It has been clear for some time that Iceland has fallen significantly behind meeting it climate goals, far exceeding its original allotment of carbon credits in the quota system established by the Kyoto Protocol. By the time the figures are settled in the middle of this year, Iceland will need to buy emission credits for the equivalent of 3.4 million tonnes of carbon dioxide, according to the Environment Agency of Iceland.

Read More: Energy Credit Market Means Only 13% of Icelandic Energy is Renewable

Notably, Iceland has up until now refrained from buying emission allowances. In a recent memo by Minister Guðlaugur Þór Þórðarson, however, buying emission credits will become key to Iceland meeting its environmental commitments.

According the results of a working group commissioned in 2020, Iceland could best make use of AAU and CER credits. AAU credits, or Assigned Amount Units, correspond to the original emission allowance given to nations under the Kyoto Protocol. Nations with unused emission credits can sell these on the market to other nations exceeding their allotment. CER credits, or Certified Emission Reduction, are given to nations engaged in climate-friendly development projects in under-developed nations.

Vísir reports that no decision has yet been taken on which credit is to purchased by government.

Current estimates indicate that some 800 million ISK [$5.7 million; €5.3 million] will be needed to purchased the required credits. The decision to buy credits is still under consideration, so the funds are not currently allocated. Such an expenditure would require a budget authorisation to finalise.

Critics Say Emission Allowance Leads to No Change

Some critics have vocally opposed Iceland’s intention to “greenwash” through accounting. One particularly outspoken critics has been Pirate representative Andrés Ingi Jónsson.

In a statement to Vísir, Andrés Ingi said: “Iceland will get away with not having implemented real, systematic changes for environmental issues. It will instead be able to resort to accounting tricks and paying fines, actions which have no actual affect on improving the climate.”

According to Andrés Ingi, flaws in the Kyoto system have led to an oversupply of emission credits, meaning that Iceland is allowed to buy these credits at a significant discount. At current market prices, Iceland will be able to buy off each tonne of carbon dioxide produced with around 235 ISK [1.$67; €1.57].



Working Group Established to Assess Future of Digital Archives

esperanto iceland

Following the decision to closure Reykjavík’s Municipal Archive, the Icelandic Society of Historians has called upon university professors, history teachers, and all others with an interest in the preservation of historical documents to speak out against the budget saving measure.

Read More: Reykjavík Municipal Archives to Be Closed Down

Mayor Dagur B. Eggertsson’s proposal was approved by the Reykjavík City Council last week, March 2, with a four-member majority. The measure was proposed in a report by accounting firm KPMG, which outlined future possibilities for the archive, and their respective costs to the city. Under the mayor’s proposal, operations of the Reykjavík Municipal Archive would be combined with the National Archives, with a focus on digital preservation. While the Reykjavík Municipal Archive would cease to be an independent entity, the documents contained there would be digitised under the plan.

The Society of Historians likewise urged the Reykjavík City Council to postpone all decisions on the future of the archive until relevant experts can be consulted.

The Society of Historians stated: “It is not intended to cast doubt on the  ability of the National Museum to take care of this project […] However, it would be a step backwards if the nation’s largest municipality was the first to close down its archives. It is also harmful that this is being done without consultation or cooperation of the archive or other experts. It is important, especially in the age of  disinformation and fake news to not reduce our ability to preserve and communicate history.”

The society has also raised questions of the future of other cultural and historical institutions given this precedent.

Working Group Appointed

In response to some of these criticisms, Minister of Culture and Trade Lilja Dögg Alfreðsdóttir has appointed a working group to assess the future organisation of archives, and to create a strategy for the digitisation and long-term storage of archival documents.

According to Lilja, “There have been major changes in the activities of archives both in Iceland and abroad, and their administrative role has increased at the expense of their cultural and research role. It is imperative that a comprehensive review be made of how the future arrangement of archives will be arranged, how to accelerate the adoption of digital solutions, to use economies of scale and to explore possibilities for further cooperation.”

The working group is to deliver a report on their finding no later than September 10, 2023.