2% Reduction in GHG Emissions, "Great News" States Environment Minister Skip to content

2% Reduction in GHG Emissions, “Great News” States Environment Minister

By Gréta Sigríður Einarsdóttir

Minister for the Environment and Natural Resources
Photo: Golli. Social Affairs Minister Guðmundur Ingi Guðbrandsson.

Iceland’s greenhouse gas emission contracted by 2% between 2018-2019, the greatest reduction since 2012, states the Environment Agency’s latest annual National Inventory Report. The total greenhouse gas emission (not counting land use and forestry) in 2019 amounted to 4,722 kilotonnes CO2 equivalents. That makes for an 8% reduction since 2005, but a 28% increase since 1990.

The Environment Agency’s annual National Inventory report on greenhouse gas emission was turned in to the EU and the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, UNFCCC, per Iceland’ commitment to environmental affairs.

The report notes that the main changes in emissions between 2018 and 2019 were

  • An increase in emissions from refrigeration equipment (44 kt CO2-eq, +27%).
  • An increase in emissions from geothermal power plants (7 kt CO2- eq, +5%).
  • A reduction in emissions from fishing boats (-30 kt CO2- eq, -5,4%).
  • A reduction in emissions from landfills (-30 kt CO2- eq, -16%).
  • A reduction in emissions from road transport (-19 kt CO2- eq, -2,0%).
  • A reduction in emissions from land use (-19 kt CO2- eq, -2,0%).
  • A reduction in emissions from metal production (-40 kt CO2- eq, -2,1%).

Iceland participates in the EU Shared Effort Regulation, as well as the EU’s actions against climate change concerning heavy industry through the EU Emissions Trading System (EU ETS). Iceland’s Shared Effort emissions (the country’s total emissions excluding LULUCF and ETS) amounted to 2,883 CO2-eq in 2019, a reduction by 2% between 2018 and 2019. Iceland’s goal is to reach a 29% reduction in Shared Effort emissions in 2030 compared to 2005. The 2019 emissions reduced by 8% compared to 2005. These are the emissions Iceland’s government is accountable for towards the EU but it should be noted that the Shared Effort emission reduction goal has been increased from 40% by 2030 to 55%. It’s not been decided what effect this change will have on Iceland’s current goal of 29%.

Iceland’s largest contributor to Shared Effort regulation emissions is road transport at 33%, followed by fishing vessels’ oil use (18%) and enteric fermentation (10%). Emissions from road transport reduced by 2% in 2019, the first year since 2014 when there’s a reduction in this category. While two-thirds of the reduction is attributed to a decrease in tourism in 2019, notably, one-third is attributed to a domestic decrease in road transport. Emissions from agriculture reduced due to fewer animals, and emissions due to landfills reduced by 30kt CO2-eq due to an increase in methane collection.

The increase in emissions from refrigeration vas considerable, but it should be noted that refrigeration emissions occur a few years after the chemicals have been imported, and the increase does not reflect current actions to combat these emissions. In fact, the Environment Agency find there’s a considerable chance that emissions from refrigeration peaked in 2019 and will decrease substantially until 2030.

Minister for the Environment and Natural Resources Guðmundur Ingi Guðbrandsson calls this “great news,” stating that Iceland’s reduction of greenhouse gas emissions is now started after a years-long plateau. In a Facebook post, Guðmundur wrote “To me, this is proof that our actions and paradigm shift in the past few years are bearing fruit.”

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