Environmentalist Criticises Icelandic Prime Minister’s Speech at COP26 Conference

Katrín Jakobsdóttir climate conference Glasgow COP26

The Icelandic Youth Environmentalist Association’s Climate Representative Finnur Ricart told Fréttablaðið he was very disappointed by the keynote speech made by Icelandic Prime Minister Katrín Jakobsdóttir at the COP26 climate conference in Glasgow, Scotland yesterday. He criticises the Icelandic government for not wanting to declare a climate emergency, something activists have long been calling for. Finnur adds that the measures to fight climate change that Katrín outlined do not go far enough considering the science she herself cites.

In her speech, Katrín stated that the scientific data on climate change was more convincing than ever and showed that the Paris Agreement was not enough to respond to climate change. She stated that while Iceland has made progress in fighting climate change it was always possible to do better, and emphasised shifting over to renewables in ships and aircraft. She added that young people were calling for action “we must listen to them.”

Finnur does not feel heard by Icelandic authorities, however. “I’m just a bit angry, to be honest. The Prime Minister mentioned at the beginning of her speech the science is clearer than ever before and that we are seeing a state of emergency developing around the world. Yet the government still does not want to declare a state of emergency in climate issues in Iceland and the goals that Katrín outlined directly afterwards are not close to enough in the context of the science to which she refers,” Finnur stated.

Finnur stated that the world needs to reduce emissions by 50% by 2030 in order to keep global warming within 1.5°C, but according to Iceland’s updated national contribution within the EU climate goals, Iceland will probably be allocated a 40% contraction. “It is just not acceptable for a rich nation in a privileged position, as Iceland is, to have lower goals than what the world average needs to be.”

Finnur expressed his wish to see the government listen more to young people and set goals in line with the science they are referencing.

Readers can watch an alternate version of Katrín’s address here.

Icelandic Sheep Fetch Handsome Prices at First-Ever Online Auction

sheep

Icelandic sheep were auctioned in the UK’s first-ever online auction, Bændablaðið reports. The auction was handled by the Scottish “livestock marketing company” Harrison & Hetherington.

Twenty-six animals were auctioned in the two-day auction in early September. The highest-earning sheep was the only ewe on offer, Alfifa, who, according to the auction catalog, “had a single ram in 2020 and twin ewe lambs in 2021.” Alfifa fetched ISK 56,000 [£317; $438; €371].

Screenshot from Harrison & Hetherington Sheep Auction Catalog

Also for sale was Bijarni, a Shearling Ram who “[w]as commended by Tim Tyne [author of The Sheep Book for Smallholders, known as ‘the bible for sheepkeepers’] in last years [sic] show despite not being entered in ram class.” Bijarni was commended as being “Gentle natured [with] well spaced horns” and noted to “stand on his feet well.” A gimmer, or female sheep that has been weaned but not sheared, named Not Splodge was also sold, as were whether lambs, and a number of ram and ewe lambs.

The average price for ewes was ISK 53,875 [£305; $422; €357]. Rams fetched a lower average price, or ISK39,000 [£134; $185; €156]. The whethers fared a little better, with an average price of ISK 33,000 [£185; $256; €216].

Screenshot from Harrison & Hetherington Sheep Auction Catalog

Interest in Icelandic sheep has ‘completely spiralled’

The first Icelandic sheep were imported to the UK in 1979. The Icelandic Sheep Breeders of the British Isles (ISBOBI) was founded nine years later, in 1988. Per Cumberland’s News&Star, in recent years, British breeders have cross-bred Icelandic sheep with “…Blackface and Shetlands with much success; others have had particularly good results crossing with the larger continentals.”

“Icelandic rams have come into their own,” the article continues, “producing cross breeds which are considered by members of the breed society to be lighter on the ground than some heavy breeds and producing better quality meat than some smaller breeds.”

Screenshot from Harrison & Hetherington Sheep Auction Catalog

There are currently around 300 Pedigree Icelandic Sheep in the UK, and the Scottish Farmer reports that they are increasingly in demand, hence auctioneers’ decision to sell them via the more accessible, online platform. “In the past our Icelandic Sheep sales have been held as part of our wider rare breeds sales, and in holding an online sale, the aim is to open the breed up to a broader UK wide audience,” remarked Harrison & Hetherington auctioneer Grant Anderson.

“In recent years there has been so much interest in Icelandic Sheep, it has completely spiralled,” added Ruth Stanton, assistant secretary of ISBOBI. “The aim of this auction is to help provide us with a measure as to what is happening as well as a benchmark for the breed.”

Seventy-Five Years Since First International Flight from Iceland

Icelandair history photo.

The first international flight departed from Reykjavík to Largs Bay, Scotland 75 years ago on July 11, 1945, RÚV reports.

The passengers aboard Icelandair’s Catalina flugbátur, or ‘flight boat,’ were mainly Icelandic merchants travelling to buy goods to be sold in Iceland.

The maiden flight, which took six hours, was captained by Jóhannes R. Snorrason, and was crewed by pilot Smári Karlsson, engineer Sigurður Ingólfsson, and radio operator Jóhann Gíslason.

Prime Minister Discusses Climate Change with British Leaders

Prime Minister Katrín Jakobsdóttir is on a state visit to the UK and has been meeting with British leaders over the last week. Vísir reports that climate change has been a focal point of all of these meetings. Katrín met with First Minister of Scotland Nicola Sturgeon on Tuesday, Labour Party Leader Jeremy Corbyn yesterday, and British Prime Minister Theresa May on Thursday.

“We also discussed gender equality issues and not least, human rights issues,” said Katrín of her meeting with Theresa May. “She herself has been very involved in these matters and been on the forefront of these struggles [in the UK].” Katrín said that they also discussed “…the issues that’s always discussed, that is, Brexit and then, of course, Iceland and the UK’s relationship in relation to that.”

Although the issue of conducting electric energy to Britain via undersea cable has been a topic of heated debate in Iceland, Katrín said that this was not something that she and Theresa May discussed in any detail during their meeting. “I informed her, of course, about the debate that is taking place in Iceland about the importance of what I think the majority of Icelanders are now in agreement about: that it is really important to ensure our control over our energy resources. That is the common property of the nation and that it is important that this guide our actions in this.”

Katrín stressed the importance of cooperation and open communication about issues that have global repercussions. “If we take climate issues as an example,” she said, “they won’t be solved except through the cooperation of nations…It’s important that the nations of the world work together on this.”

Goose Flew to Iceland from Scotland in Less Than a Day

A greylag goose named Arnór completed its migratory flight from the Firth of Tay in Scotland to the Fagurhólsmýri moor in Southeast Iceland in 20 hours, RÚV reports. This is an estimated distance of 1,115km (693mi). The gander was tagged with a GPS tracker in Blönduós, North Iceland in July 2018 before flying back to Scotland, and spending its winter just east of the city of Dundee.

According to ornithologist Arnór Þórir Sigfússon, who posted his namesake’s journey on Facebook on Wednesday, the gander is the third greylag to have been tagged with a GPS tracker. The other two were geese named Linda and Linda Björk. Linda was shot by a hunter in Skagafjörður in the fall of 2016; Linda Björk’s transmitter was found in 2017. Its owner’s fate is unknown, although Linda Björk is presumed to be dead.

Meanwhile, Árnor the greylag gander has had a far happier story since being tagged last year. His tracking data shows that he spent some time in the fishing grounds along the southern coast of Iceland before heading to Scotland. He arrived in the Firth of Tay in November and has been wintering there since. Arnór set off on his journey back to Iceland on Monday around midnight and did not stop until he arrived in Fagurhólsmýri. He then rested there for a short time. As of 6 am on Wednesday morning, however, Arnór had already taken off again, and was reported to be flying over the Skeiðarársandur plain and northwest over the Vatnajökull glacier.

Árnor Þórir said he expected that before long, the gander would arrive back in Blönduós, where an eager group of geese enthusiasts were looking forward to welcoming the international traveller.