Over one thousand environmentalists gathered with green flags outside the Prime Minister’s office yesterday to submit a petition against government plans to review the Framework Programme for Hydro and Geothermal Energy Resources, Vísir reports. The demonstration was organised by the Icelandic Environmental Union, which collected public recommendations regarding the Framework Programme that various organisations, municipalities, lobby groups and individuals had sent to Alþingi and the Ministry of Environment. The demonstration was held in reaction to the government’s recent announcement of their plans to review the Framework Programme with the aim of increasing the number of power stations currently in operation as well as the Prime Minister’s desire to carry through plans for an aluminium smelter in Helguvík. It was also a reply to the Prime Minister’s belittlement of earlier public responses to the Framework Programme. The Chairperson of the Environmental Union, Guðmundur Hörður Guðmundsson, handed over the recommendations and signatures to the Prime Minister’s assistant. Guðmundur told RÚV that some eight power stations would need to be put into operation in order to generate enough power for the smelter in Helguvík and that it would bring 90% of all energy produced in Iceland into the service of manufacturing aluminium, which he did not consider economically sound. Responding to the frequently cited argument that Helguvík would bring much needed jobs to people of the Reykjanes peninsula, Guðmundur further stated that big industry was not the most viable way to create jobs and that even the leader of the the Youth Organisation of the Independence Party had recently written an article pointing to alternative ways for economic growth and job creation. Read related Grapevine story here.
Government-sanctioned budget cuts have forced the Directorate of Labour to let go of some of their employees and cut back on services to the unemployed. “We are struggling with a demand to reduce operational costs by about 100 million [ISK],” Gissur Pétursson, the director of the Directorate, told RÚV. “There is no other choice. We cannot conduct interviews and counseling like we would otherwise want to.” 20 employees have already been let go, operating hours have been shortened, and the service office has been closed. Gissur could not comment on the exact number of employees who will be let go
The Union of Public Servants (SFR) has released a salary poll that shows the gender wage gap within their ranks is growing. Vísir reports that the unadjusted wage difference between men and women doing the same work within SFR is 21%. Men in SFR make, on average, 469,885 ISK per month, while women doing the same work make 369,446 ISK. This was detemined by a Capacent Gallup poll conducted for SFR. When these figures are adjusted for other factors that have an effect on salaries, the gender wage gap not only still remains, at 10%, it is also increasing. Last
All 28 European Union member states and seven other countries have delivered a demarche to the Icelandic government to end the practice of whaling. In a statement from the European Commission, they confirm that “The EU, its 28 Member States and the governments of the United States, Australia, Brazil, Israel, New Zealand, Mexico and Monaco, today declared their opposition to the fact that the Icelandic government still permits commercial whaling, in particular the hunting of fin whales and the subsequent trading of fin whale products.” The Icelandic government has received the demarche (see below), which was delivered by the EU’s
If Holuhraun continues erupting it is likely the whole country will be effected by poisonous SO2 levels, reports RÚV. “[If the eruption continues] we can expect strong levels of SO2, especially to the northwest,” said Þorsteinn Jóhannsson, a specialist working with air pollution at the Environment Agency of Iceland. “And presumably, the direction of the wind will change at some point and then we can expect it all over the country.” RÚV reports that SO2 pollution measured 1,250 micrograms per cubic meter in Reykjahlíð near Lake Mývatn last night. The maximum safety limit for SO2 is 600 micrograms per cubic meter. Several
Harvest is upon Reykjavík’s allotment gardens and unfortunately for potato salad enthusiasts city-wide, the yield was not great. RÚV reports that aggressive rain during the summer months flooded many allotments, including Vigfús Karlsson’s. Vigfús, who enjoys growing cabbage, carrots as well as potatoes in his allotment, told RÚV that his crop was quite sluggish. “And that’s not fun,” Vigfús said. Roughly 800 allotments were rented out to the public in Reykjavík and Mosfellsbær this summer and some were luckier than others. Hreiðar Sigmarsson was one of the lucky few with an excellent harvest. His allotment in Grafarvogur yielded plenty of red and
A Progressive city councilperson has questioned the cost of maintaining Yoko Ono’s Peace Tower, and was apparently misinformed about how the Peace Fund is used. RÚV reports that Progressive city councilperson Sveinbjörg Birna Sveinbjörnsdóttir has submitted a formal request to City Hall to know how much money it costs the city to maintain the Peace Tower. Speaking to reporters, Sveinbjörg said she had nothing against the Peace Tower itself; she simply wanted to know the operational costs for a work of art. Furthermore, she added that she found it strange that former Mayor of Reykjavík Jón Gnarr should receive money