The smallest aluminium smelter in Iceland uses 50% more electricity than all of Iceland’s households and businesses combined, while contributing very little to the country’s GDP. Heavy industry has often been touted by Icelandic conservatives as a cash cow: foreign companies can provide the country with jobs, while utilising Iceland’s green energy to produce aluminium in a cleaner fashion. While the myth of the “green smelter” has been definitively put to rest, aluminium is still billed by some as being good for the economy. However, Vilhjálmur Þorsteinsson – the chair of a study group assembled by the Ministry of Industry that studies Iceland’s energy use – has come to some damning conclusions about smelters in Iceland. Iceland’s three aluminium smelters – Alcoa in Reyðarfjörður, Norðurál in Grundartangi, and Alcan in Straumsvík – consume approximately 13 terawatt hours of electricity. The entire capacity of Iceland’s electrical output is 17 terawatt hours. Furthermore, Straumsvík – the smallest smelter in the country – uses 3.6 terawatt hours. The combined total energy consumption of every home and business in Iceland (apart from the smelters) equals only 2.3 terawatt hours. At the same time, even the best estimates of what smelters contribute to the economy only put them in the neighbourhood of contributing to 5% of the GDP. Tourism accounts for about the same percentage of the GDP while using far less of the power grid. Meanwhile, Iceland’s service sector accounts for 69.9% of its GDP, and fishing accounts for 12%.
The US Embassy in Iceland says they have received the written statement from protesters who oppose the Gaza attacks, and “have delivered this message back to appropriate colleagues in Washington”. As reported, protesters assembled in front of the US embassy yesterday, in opposition to US support for Israel while the attacks on Gaza continue. Vísir reports that some 2,000 people attended the protests, and delivered a written statement to embassy officials. The statement, addressed to US President Barack Obama, called upon US authorities to put an end to Israel’s use of force against Gaza. Today, the US embassy posted a
Minister of the Interior Hanna Birna Kristjánsdóttir met with the former Commissioner of the Capital Area Police four times during police investigations of her ministry, but denies she ever tried to exert influence. These acts may put her on shakey ground with members of her own party. In a statement posted on the ministry’s website, Hanna Birna has responded to a formal request from Parliamentary Ombudsman Tryggvi Gunnarsson regarding news that Hanna Birna had allegedly told then Commissioner of the Capital Area Police Stefán Eiríksson, both in person and over the phone, that she was unhappy with how investigations of
Minister of Housing and Social Affairs Eygló Harðardóttir said she is worried about second- and third-generation children of immigrants, saying that they are in danger of becoming isolated. RÚV reports that her ministry is also concerned about immigrants on the rental market. “We are very worried about the status of immigrants on the real estate market, as it relates to overall integration into Icelandic society,” she told reporters. “Language comprehension is also important, in order to ensure that the children of immigrants can finish primary school, continue to secondary school, and then decide to learn a trade or go to
Welfare Minister Eygló Harðardóttir has announced that, come next fall, the Ministry intends to propose legislation against racial discrimination. This was reported by RÚV. According to RÚV, ‘the notion of equal rights’ will thereby be ‘extended, making it also apply to race and people’s place of origin’. The Minister is quoted as saying that ‘what we have in mind, first and foremost, is for people to have a way through the state apparatus, to verify whether they have been discriminated against or not.’ The legislation will apply, it is reported, ‘both within and outside the job market’. ‘Of course discrimination
Disappointed with the delay of his flight from Spain, Icelander Davíð Aron Guðnason decided to take matters into his own hands by fixing the plane’s engine, reports Vísir. There were no flight mechanics available when the delay of Davíð’s plane from Spain to Iceland was announced. It was likely that all 180 passengers would have to spend the night at a hotel while the issue was dealt with. Incidentally, Davíð is a flight mechanic by trade and offered to help fix the plane so that it could leave. “I spoke to the pilot, who put me in touch their flight mechanic
A comprehensive round of testing of beef products across Europe has revealed almost no traces of horse meat in Europe beef and none in Iceland, reports Vísir. The European Commission described the results of the testing as encouraging following last year’s horse-meat scandal, in which millions of ready-made beef meals were pulled from supermarket freezers across Europe. European Commissioner for Health and Consumer Policy, Tonio Borg, has said the results prove that there has been progress following the events of last year. According to the report, 10 tests were conducted in Iceland but none showed traces of horse DNA.