Climate change mitigation - Drivers and pressures (Iceland)

SOER 2010 Common environmental theme (Deprecated)
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SOER Common environmental theme from Iceland
Published: 26 Nov 2010 Modified: 11 May 2020

Iceland’s Assigned Amount Units for the first commitment period are 18.5 million tonnes of CO2 equivalents, or 3.7 million tonnes per year on average. Iceland’s total Annex A greenhouse gas emissions were 4.9 million CO2-equivalents in 2008, or 43 % above 1990 levels and an 8 % increase from 2007. As the Icelandic population in 2008 was approximately 315 500, this amounts to 15.5 tons/capita. Emissions have increased in all sectors since 1990 except fisheries (21 % reduction) and agriculture (2 % reduction). The greatest increase in emissions was from the aluminium industry. However, emissions per tonne of aluminium produced have decreased while aluminium production has increased from 88 000 tonnes in 1990 to 780 000 tonnes in 2008. It should be noted that over this period (1990-2008) the Icelandic population grew by about 24 %.


Figure 1. Emission of greenhouse gases (in million tonnes) by categories in Iceland 1990 to 2008


Figure 1. Emission of greenhouse gases (in million tonnes) by categories in Iceland 1990 to 2008 (1).


The greenhouse gas emissions profile for Iceland is in many regards unusual. Firstly, emissions from the generation of electricity and from space heating are very low, since they are generated from renewable non- or very low-emitting energy sources. Secondly, about 80 % of emissions come from industry, transportation and fishing vessels (2).



Figure 2. Emission of greenhouse gases (in %) by sector in Iceland 2008

Figure 2. Emission of greenhouse gases (in %) by sector in Iceland 2008


Industrial processes

Production of non-ferrous metals is the main source.

Energy production

The main part is from geothermal plants (4 %) (1).


Road transport is the main source of greenhouse gas emissions from transport. The number of passenger cars increased by 32 % between 2000 and 2008 and freight vehicles by 64 % in the same period.


The fisheries sector accounts for 12 % of total emissions. Fuel combustion in the fishing fleet is the main source.

The Kyoto targets

According to the Kyoto Protocol, Iceland’s specific obligations concerning greenhouse gas emissions are twofold:

1) Greenhouse gas emissions from Iceland should not increase by more than 10 % over and above 1990 levels, that is, remain within approximately 3.7 million tonnes of CO2 equivalents per year, on average, during the period 2008-2012.

2) Emissions not exceeding 8 million tonnes of CO2 from industrial processes during the commitment period, falling under 'single projects', according to Decision 14/CP.7, shall be reported separately and shall not be included in national totals to the extent that it would cause Iceland to exceed its assigned amount (1, 2).



(1) Emissions of greenhouse gases in Iceland from 1990 to 2008. National Inventory Report 2010. Report in English.

(2) Iceland’s Climate Change Strategy. Report in English.


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The country assessments are the sole responsibility of the EEA member and cooperating countries supported by the EEA through guidance, translation and editing.

Filed under: SOER2010, climate change
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