Reykjavík Receives Environmental Innovation Grant

Reykjavík pond

The City of Reykjavík and Reykjavík Energy have received an ISK 160 million ($1.3m/€1.2m) grant from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 Research and Technological Development Programme. The grant is used toward carbon offsetting and energy exchange projects in cities.

Two European cities, Espoo in Finland and Leipzig in Germany, have the role of developing carbon offsetting and energy exchange solutions, while five other European cities, including Reykjavík, test-run the solutions in a variety of environments.

The project focuses on energy exchange in transport, and the development of smart and energy-friendly infrastructure. The project also touches on the transformation of cities through the interaction between authorities, administrations, and stakeholders, while the involvement of the public is another key element. The grant is distributed over a five-year period.

Invented a Carbon Offset Calculator to Fight Flying Shame

An Icelandic PhD student in computer science has created a program which calculates how many trees travellers have to plant to carbon offset their flights. Matthías Páll Gissurarson, a student at Chalmers University in Gothenburg, Sweden, wanted to find a way to get rid of his ‘flugviskubit‘ (flying shame). Originally derived from the Swedish term ‘flygskam’, flying shame refers to the guilty conscience travellers feel due to the substantial environmental impact air travel has. The ‘flygskam’ movement is essentially anti-flight as it aims to get people to stop travelling by aviation to lower carbon emissions. However, flying in and out of Iceland is the only viable option for many, so a calculator such as this can help avid travellers heading to Iceland with calculating their carbon emissions.

Matthías has named the calculator FFCO, the fuel-based carbon offset calculator for flights. The website also provides links to carbon offset projects both in Iceland and the United States where users can carbon offset their travels.

Getting rid of flying shame
“I was buying a flight to the United States and saw that the flight which I was purchasing did not reveal information on how much carbon the flight releases,” Matthías said in an interview with Vísir. More and more airlines have started to offer passengers the option to pay extra fees to carbon offset their travels. “I saw how easy it was to find the information so I decided to create a program to get rid of the flying shame more easily,” he stated. Those using the calculator can now compare the environmental impact of their flight to different flights, as the impact can vastly differ between companies based on factors such as aircraft type or fuel economy, amongst others.

Users input the flight number of their flight leg and receive information about how much fuel the plane uses on the trip as well as how many trees need to planted to offset the environmental impact. Matthías retrieves fuel data information from the flight tracking website FlightAware and seating information from SeatGuru. The carbon offset calculator always uses the most recent information about flights, which get updated regularly.

Head to Matthías’ website to calculate how many trees you need plant for your flight: FFCO, the fuel-based carbon offset calculator for flights

Matthías on Twitter: https://twitter.com/tritlo

[media-credit name=”FFCO / Matthías Páll Gissurarson” align=”alignnone” width=”1024″][/media-credit]

Government Announces Ambitious Plan for Carbon Offsetting

The Icelandic government has announced a plan to increase carbon gains by 50% by 2030. The plan, which will be carried out in the next four years, will focus on carbon capturing by planting trees along with the reclamation of wetlands. The government will invest 2.1 billion ISK (14.7m €, 16.7m $) in the next four years to improve land use and the extent of soil reclamation and forestation. This was revealed in a press conference held outside in Elliðárdalur valley by Prime Minister Katrín Jakobsdóttir and Minister for the Environment and Natural Resources Guðmundur Ingi Guðbrandssson earlier today.

The plan entails projects all around the country which will ensure the protection of the biosphere. It is expected that the climate gain from the carbon offsetting, along with the reclamation of wetlands, will be 50% more by 2030 when compared to the current state. Furthermore, it is planned that the increase will have reached 110% by 2050, or 2.1 million tons of CO2 in total. Along with the carbon capture, measures will be taken to fight land deterioration as well as strengthening local biodiversity by reclaiming ecosystems, such as wetlands, birch forests, willow bushes, and diverse forestation projects.

Prime Minister Katrín Jakobsdóttir stated: “The Government has placed an emphasis on climate matters, and clearly set the course for Iceland not only fulfilling the goals of the Paris Agreement but that the country will have reached the carbon neutrality goals not later than 2040. The measures we’re introducing today are not least put in place to achieve that important goal. Carbon capturing as well as the reclamation of wetlands are immensely important in the fight against the climate danger.”

It is expected that soil reclamation will double from 2018 to 2022 by operations all around the country, and it is likewise planned to double the yearly extent of forestation in the same four-year period. Operations to reclaim wetlands will be improved significantly, and it is expected that the yearly scope of reclaimed wetlands will go from 45 hectares on average in the years 2016-2018 to about 500 hectares in 2022. To ensure the maximum climate gains, a special emphasis will be placed on operations on land where carbon is being lost from the soil.

Guðmundur Ingi Guðbrandsson, Minister for the Environment and Natural Resources: “With these operations which we have introduced we place the main emphasis on a holistic approach where we look to climate change matters and carbon capturing at the same time as we reclaim parts of the natural environment. This entails projects where we recapture previous land qualities, including wetlands and birch forests. There will also be an emphasis on strengthening agricultural forestry.”

Numerous projects will be put in place all over the country in co-operation with farmers, non-governmental organizations, private companies, and municipalities, as well as strengthening projects already in place. A substantial amount of farmers are currently working on soil reclamation and forestation. There are also plans afoot to ensure that farmers pursue more eco-friendly agricultural methods.

New laws regarding soil reclamation, as well as forests and forestation, were approved in Parliament recently. The laws will play an important role in ensuring that carbon will be captured and to ensure sustainable land use.

For a more detailed report, albeit only in Icelandic at this point in time:
https://www.stjornarradid.is/lisalib/getfile.aspx?itemid=f8c0433d-9cca-11e9-9443-005056bc4d74