Iceland's Cars Pollute More Than Aluminium Smelter - The Reykjavik Grapevine

Iceland’s Cars Pollute More Than Aluminium Smelter

Published June 16, 2015

Photos by
Brilliantwiki/Wikimedia Commons

The sum total of all of Iceland’s cars emit more greenhouse gases than the Alcoa aluminium smelter in Reyðarfjörður, a new study finds.

MBL reports that Icelanders own about 200,000 private cars, and that Iceland in fact ranks fifth in the world in terms of number of motor vehicles per thousand people. Icelanders drive about 15,000 kilometres per year, burning some 250 million litres of oil annually.

This love affair with the car equates some 600,000 tonnes of greenhouse gases released into the atmosphere from Iceland, just from the cars alone. By comparison, the aluminium smelter in Reyðarfjörður emitted 520,000 tonnes in 2012.

For this reason, amongst others, Sig­urður Friðleifs­son of the energy research centre Orkusetur is hoping Icelanders can move towards electric cars instead, pointing out the electrical power is not only cleaner; it’s also plentiful in Iceland, while refined petroleum needs to be imported. He adds that if Icelanders were able to find a way to provide tremendous amounts of electricity for heavy industry, they can surely provide the same amount for a new fleet of electric cars to replace gas-burning ones.

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