Progressives Say PM's UN Speech Not Exactly What He Meant - The Reykjavik Grapevine

Progressives Say PM’s UN Speech Not Exactly What He Meant

Published September 28, 2015

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Prime Minister Sigmundur Davíð Gunnlaugsson did not really mean what he said to the United Nations about Iceland’s climate change policy, other Progressives say. Both one of his assistants and the Minister for the Environment have come forward to correct his claims.

In a speech the Prime Minister made to the UN at this year’s United Nations Sustainable Development Summit, amongst his claims was that Iceland has promised to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 40% by 2030.

This, it turns out, is not exactly true.

Minister for the Environment and fellow Progressive Sigrún Magnúsdóttir told RÚV that in fact, the government has yet to set a definitive goal as to how much greenhouse gases in Iceland will be reduced, or when.

Jó­hann­es Þór Skúla­son, one of the Prime Minister’s assistants, told MBL that what the Prime Minister meant was that Iceland would participate “in conjunction with the European Union” to reduce Iceland’s greenhouse gas emissions by “a fair proportion” of an overall 40% for the EU as a whole. What that proportion will be has not been disclosed.

Although Iceland’s energy sources come primarily from geothermal and hydropower, the country’s greenhouse gas emissions come primarily from its fleet of cars.

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.

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