Iceland’s direct emissions of greenhouse gases remained unchanged between 2021 and 2022. Emissions from industry grew by 2% while emissions from international transport increased by 95% between 2021 and 2022. These are preliminary figures on Iceland’s greenhouse gas emissions for 2022 from the Environment Agency of Iceland.
The Icelandic government has set the goal of decreasing Iceland’s direct emissions by 55% in 2030 as compared to emissions in 2005. The government itself has an aim of achieving carbon neutrality by 2040, as do the City of Reykjavík, the National Power Company of Iceland, and the National Church of Iceland.
The emissions Iceland is directly responsible for have decreased by 12% since 2005 but remained unchanged between 2021 and 2022. Emissions from fish meal factories by a dramatic 485% due to electricity cuts which led factories to use backup generators. Emissions from electricity and heating rose by 230% due to the use of backup generators and emissions from road transport increased by 8% due to increased sale of fuel.
Icelandic agriculture showed a 2% drop in emissions between 2021 and 2022 due to a decrease in the number of sheep, while fishing ships showed a 16% decrease in emissions due to purchasing less fuel within Iceland. It is not clear whether the ships purchased more fuel abroad as a result.
Road transport single largest source of emissions
Proportionally speaking, road transport is the largest single source of greenhouse gas emissions in Iceland, accounting for 33% of the emissions Iceland is directly responsible for. Agriculture comes in second at 21.5% and fishing ships are in third place at 17.3%. Landfilling of waste comes in at 7.1%, geothermal power stations at 6.8%, cooling equipment at 4.6%, and equipment and machines at 2.1%. This leaves 7.5% of emissions coming from other sources.
Industry and international travel not calculated in direct emissions
Iceland’s emissions which are within the EU emissions tradings system have increased by 120% since 2005 and by 2% from the previous year. The biggest increase in emissions between 2021 and 2022 in this category (9%) was due to increased silicon metal production.
Emissions from international transport increased by 95% between 2021 and 2022 following the lifting of travel restrictions due to the COVID-19 pandemic. However, emissions from international transport as a whole have not reached the same level as before the pandemic. The release amounted to over 1 million tonnes of CO2 in 2022 while it was over 1.5 million tonnes in 2018.
International transport includes international flights and international shipping. Emissions are calculated based on fuel purchased in Iceland for planes and ships that are on their way from Iceland.