Engineer Wages Advertising War Against Aluminium Factories

ISAL aluminium smelter

Electrical engineer Reynir Þór Eyvindsson has bought advertising time for a period of some years on national broadcaster RÚV during the holidays, with the intention of reminding the nation of some inconvenient truths about aluminium production in Iceland.

His advertisements come in response to what he identifies as a preponderance of aluminium industry PR in the media during the holidays, which could be seen as “greenwashing” an activity that has a worse environmental impact than many may think.

Aluminium production is a highly energy-intensive industry which has found a home in Iceland thanks to the supply of green electricity. Environmental critics, however, have pointed out that the use of geothermal and hydroelectric power do not simply neutralise the environmental impact of this industry.

iceland aluminium
Screensot – RÚV

The text of the advertisements reads in English: “Icelandic Aluminium Plants: Pay very little in taxes. Emit twice as much CO2 as the entire automobile fleet.  Around 1.5 million tonnes of toxic sludge are produced annually. This could fill the outdoor swimming pool at Laugardalur 1,500 times over. Happy New Year, Reynir Eyvindsson.”

In a statement to Morgunblaðið, Reynir said: “This is a highly political issue. Not everyone agrees that this highly polluting industry should be here.”

Reynir admits that advertising slots on RÚV during the holidays are rather expensive, but he says he doesn’t have much else to do with his money. He pays for the advertisements out of his own pocket, but recognises that they may not stand up to the production quality of the aluminium industry’s professional advertisements. Nevertheless, he counts the money as well spent.

Read more about protecting Iceland’s environment here.

Icelandic Student Takes Second Place in European Statistics Competition

Ólöf María Steinarsdóttir, a student at Reykjavík’s Technical College, won second place in the 16-18 age group of the European Statistics Competition (ESC) for her statistical analysis of why Iceland has such high greenhouse gas emissions per capita. RÚV reports that 17,000 students from 19 countries took part in the competition.

The ESC is a competition organized by Eurostat and participating national statistical institutes, aimed at encouraging secondary students to become literate in statistics and official statistical sources. The competition is divided into two phases, national and European. Participants first participate at the national level and then those winners proceed to the European finals. This is the fifth year the competition has been held, but the first year Iceland has participated.

After winning the national competition in Iceland, Ólöf María and her fellow finalists were asked to produce two-minute videos on the environment. “Contestants had to present their findings on what official statistics tell about the environment in their country/region,” explains the press release on the Eurostat website. “The students produced really powerful videos, some even in the form of a rap song. Their message is clear: we need to build (statistical) knowledge about environmental issues and take action!” A jury of European experts reviewed the 66 submissions and selected the top five videos in the 14 – 16 age group (32 submissions) and the 16 – 18 age group (34 submissions). Ólöf María’s video placed second in the latter group, behind the team from Bulgaria. (A description of, and links to, all the top-placing videos can be found here.)

‘The Green Facade: The Story of Iceland Told by Statistics’

In her video, ‘The Green Facade: The Story of Iceland Told by Statistics,’ Ólöf María examines why Iceland produces 5.24x as much in emissions as its larger European neighbours. This despite the fact that on a household-level, emissions are low in Iceland, and have been consistently so for over 25 years. Industry, and most specifically aluminum production, produces 90% of Iceland’s emissions. See the full, two-minute video, in English, below.