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Iceland launches new Climate Strategy, boosting efforts to reach Paris goals

The Climate Strategy was presented at a Press conference in Reykjavik earlier today. - mynd

The Icelandic Government today announced a new Climate Strategy, intended to boost efforts in cutting net emissions. The new measures are to help Iceland meet its Paris Agreement targets for 2030 and reach the government‘s ambitious aim to make Iceland carbon neutral before 2040.

The Climate Strategy was launched by Prime Minister Katrín Jakobsdóttir at a press conference, flanked by 6 other Ministers in her Government. The Strategy consists of 34 Government measures, ranging from an increase in reforestation to a ban on new registration of fossil fuel cars by 2030. The plan aims at transforming the transportation system from using imported fossil fuels to a carbon-free system run on renewable energy. The plan will be subject to public consultation, and an updated Strategy will be published in 2019, taking into account comments and suggestions by civil society.

„The Government has secured substantial increase in funding for climate mitigation measures, and now presents a new climate strategy, with clearly defined priorities. Ahead is a period of consultation with industry, municipalities and civil society on how to implement the strategy and individual actions. We have a clear determination to succeed in our goals in this most important issue; to reach our Paris Agreement goals by 2030 and the Government’s stated aim for a carbon neutral Iceland by 2040,“ said Prime Minister Jakobsdóttir.

The main emphasis of the new plan is on two measures: 1) to phase out fossil fuels in transport, and 2) to increase carbon sequestration in land use, by afforestation, revegetation and restoration of wetlands. Climate mitigation measures will get a substantial increase in funding – almost 7 billion Icelandic krónur in the period 2019-2023. A general carbon tax, already in place, will be gradually increased.

Iceland already enjoys virtually carbon-free electricity and heating, thanks to its utilization of geothermal and hydro energy. Fossil fuels are used in transport and fisheries, and now the aim is set for a push in decarbonizing those sectors. Among the measures announces in the new plan are: increases in government support for charging stations and other infrastructure for electrical transport and other clean fuels; support for biofuel production; a strengthening of already generous subsidies for electrical cars and other clean vehicles; and support for public transport and bicycling. Iceland has seen a considerable increase in the purchase of electrical cars recently, and the plan aims at greatly accelerating this trend in the coming years.

Afforestation and revegetation have long been a major emphasis in Iceland‘s climate policies, as these actions help to mitigate climate change by uptake of carbon from the atmosphere. Funding for these activities will be increased. The Government will also support efforts to reclaim drained wetlands, which in recent years have been shown to be a significant source of carbon emissions.

The package of actions also includes such measures as: The launching of a new fund to support low-carbon technology; a phase-out for landfilling organic waste; a phase-out programme for climate-warming chemicals known as HFCs; participation in emissions trading for industry and aviation and other sectors; public education campaigns, and other measures.

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