New data from Eurostat shows Iceland to be the largest polluter when it comes to net emissions of greenhouse gases in Europe, in terms of tonnes per capita. However, some sectors are more polluting than others.
The European Union average shows 7.8 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions per capita. In Iceland, that average is 40.9 tonnes. Sweden ranked lowest, at 1.8 tonnes, while the second-highest was Luxembourg, at 19.7 tonnes.
That said, “per capita” is of course just an average; different sectors of Icelandic society pollute more than others.
Emissions from heavy industry have increased by 133% since 1990, and emissions from car traffic have increased by 85% since 1990 and by 5.5% between 2016 and 2017. A report from the Environment Agency of Iceland found in 2019 that emissions were also exacerbated by the increase of tourism, due to both a sharp increase in both rented vehicles and flights to and from Iceland.
All this being the case, while the statistical average is troubling, the average individual Icelander is not releasing 40.9 tonnes of greenhouse gases; a few sectors that are in large part under the auspices of the Icelandic government are.
Note: Due to the effect the Coronavirus is having on tourism in Iceland, it’s become increasingly difficult for the Grapevine to survive. If you enjoy our content and want to help the Grapevine’s journalists do things like eat and pay rent, please consider joining our High Five Club.
You can also check out our shop, loaded with books, apparel and other cool merch, that you can buy and have delivered right to your door
Also you can get regular news from Iceland—including the latest notifications on eruptions, as soon as they happen—by signing up to our newsletter.
Buy subscriptions, t-shirts and more from our shop right here!