Athugið þessi frétt er meira en 2 mánaða gömul.

Further calls for climate emergency decree

01.10.2022 - 12:14
Mynd með færslu
 Mynd: Birgir Þór Harðarson - RÚV
Nine opposition MPs have submitted a parliamentary proposal for Alþingi to declare a climate emergency. They criticise the government for what they call its unclear policy and lack of ambition in climate matters. In other news, the environment minister has submitted a bill to prohibit searching for oil in Icelandic waters.

Andrés Ingi Jónsson, MP for Píratar (the Pirates), is the lead signatory to the proposal, along with his party colleagues and other parliamentarians from Samfylkingin (the Social Democrats) and Viðreisn (the Reform Party). The proposal calls for Alþingi to declare a state of emergency over climate change and to instruct the government to bolster the ambition and implementation of its climate action plan as a result.

The MPs write that the danger posed by climate change has increased in recent years. World leaders have long been aware of the growing problem but have not taken necessary action.

The Icelandic government is criticised for unclear and incomplete climate goals. The MPs point out that Iceland’s greenhouse gas emissions increased three percent between 2020 and 2021. The government has neglected its duty to make green changes to society’s basic systems, the MPs believe.

The musician Björk told The Guardian this August that prime minister Katrín Jakobsdóttir had promised to declare a climate emergency in 2019 but broke her promise, the singer said.

No oil search

In different environmental news, the environment minister, Guðlaugur Þór Þórðarson, says the proposed bill to ban oil prospecting within Iceland’s Exclusive Economic Zone is in full accordance with the government’s climate policy. He says it is more important to look to green energy solutions.

The ban extends not only to searching for oil but also research and refining within Iceland or its waters. The minister submitted a similar bill in the spring, but it was never debated. He says that bill, and the new one, are a part of the three governing parties’ coalition agreement.

Is it sensible to rule out the possibility when Europe is facing a major energy crisis?

“These options do not solve the current situation. It’s not years, but decades in the making. But, on the other hand, we need energy, and we have energy. We have knowledge and must use the energy, and there I am talking geothermal, hydro, and then we can also use other sources, which we will definitely do in some way and try to do so as cooperatively as possible,” Guðlaugur Þór says.

The history of oil prospecting in Iceland is not long and has been primarily focused on the “Dragon Zone” in the ocean off the northeast of the country. The first licences were issued in 2012 and three Icelandic and foreign companies were granted the licences. They have all since returned their licences—most recently in 2018.

“But the main point of the matter is that when people are criticising these things, and that is perfectly normal, then people are pointing out that there is a need for energy. But it is needed quickly, and the countries we compare ourselves to are doing that, not only because of climate matters but also because they are trying to do it independently of Russia. People are looking for something which can be used now or in the coming few years, and that is what we’re doing too. That’s why the emphasis is first and foremost on green Icelandic energy,” the minister says.

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