Chatham House webinar
Addressing the climate emergency while staying competitive: Nordic and British approaches and innovations.
Wednesday 26 May
Dear colleagues and friends,
Thank you for inviting me to participate in this important Chatham House event addressing the climate emergency while staying competitive in the Nordic Region and the UK, with focus on green innovations and solutions.
First, allow me to give a few general remarks about Iceland and its climate policy and approaches to deliver on them.
Iceland, like the other Nordics and the UK, is deeply committed to the Paris Agreement. We will take active part in international and regional efforts and deliver on our national commitments to combat climate change. Iceland has reported its upscaled NDC, committing to 55% or higher reduction by 2030 in cooperation with EU and Norway and carbon neutrality by 2040. It is envisaged to reach these targets through several different types of methods or actions.
- Firstly, through electrification of mobility which is already well underway. Iceland ranks second worldwide in terms of electrification of cars already. This is supported and encouraged through tax incentives, access to affordable green, sustainable energy and public support to charging facilities around the country.
- Secondly, green hydrogen and e-fuels are envisaged to become more and more usual in heavy transport, shipping, and aviation. This transformation will be based on Iceland’s abundant clean, sustainable, and affordable energy resources.
- Thirdly, carbon capture and storage through removal from industrial and other sources will also play an important role through the Carbfix method. The Government and the energy intensive industry in Iceland (aluminum, silicon metal) are working together to find ways to capture emissions from the industry and remove them through the Carbfix method.
- The Carbfix method of carbon capture and removal from industrial sources and the atmosphere is an innovative method to capture carbon dioxide and some other gases and to turn them into solid rock deep down under the surface. I will not go into any detail on this, you will be well briefed about this method at Spotlight Session 1 (one) later this morning.
- In addition to this, there are many other innovative solutions and novel climate technologies under development in Iceland, including carbon recycling for e-methanol production (Carbon Recycling International, CRI, operating today also in Norway, Sweden, Germany and China), small-scale ammonium production units based on green hydrogen and none-toxic enzymes (Atmonia), large scale battery storage technologies based on aluminum (Alor) and more.
- Nature-based solutions such as afforestation, revegetation, and wetland restoration are also central to the commitment of carbon neutrality before 2040. Iceland has more than 100 years of experience in this field.
I believe that there are great opportunities for Icelandic and British scientists, innovators and businesses to cooperate on novel and innovative ways of developing and upscaling technologies that we need for the future to build back better and greener.
Now, to the more specific points.
- First, how are businesses in the UK and Iceland supporting our goals of achieving our net-zero pledges and NDC targets?
- I will limit my points here with how businesses in my own country are contributing. I have already mentioned the cooperation between the energy intensive industry and Carbfix. On a very general note, almost all businesses in Iceland have turned their focus on how best to support efforts in fighting climate change and preserving our planet.
- The public in general has become very concerned about climate issues and businesses are going with the tide, turning their business strategies in the same direction - to keep in business so to speak. This effort takes many forms, such as green financing which craves proofing of green practices of the borrower.
- Another form is that businesses net out their carbon footprint by buying certificates for afforestation or wetland restoration projects.
- Use of electric vehicles is ever more a priority of businesses, including car-rental vehicles. Methane gas from garbage is also being utilized more in transport.
- These are just examples. I remain optimistic that businesses will align with our targets following the sentiments of their customers and the regulatory framework to incentivize such behavior.
On the second point, what does success at COP26 look like from the perspective of Nordic and British businesses?
- I think that the most important results from COP26 for Nordic, UK, or businesses in general would be that we manage to set clear and transparent rules.
- Regulatory frameworks that are transparent and equitable including for markets for carbon emissions, are extremely important for businesses to be able to adopt climate-friendly business strategies.
- Trade rules that secure level playing field in trade are also important but perhaps not an issue to be solved at COP26. Furthermore, climate financing and technology support to the developing world are not only important to solve the climate crises at the global level but will also help our own businesses to adapt and thrive on the global markets
On the third point, which Nordic and British innovations and technologies can make substantial contributions to the implementation of NDCs and net zero pledges, domestically and globally, I think from the Icelandic point of view I would underline two points.
- The first one is the use of the Carbfix method. As for bilateral cooperation with the UK, Carbfix has announced a project called CODA. The CODA project is based on cooperation between Carbfix and British companies to import captured CO2 from their industrial streams in the UK to Iceland by sea for injection deep into Icelandic basalt rock formations for permanent storage as solid state rock.
- The project also involves a Danish shipping company with special tankers for this purpose. This project could also possibly be utilized to export green hydrogen or e-fuels from Iceland to the UK or Europe on the same ships. The Carbfix method can also be applied worldwide where there is access to basaltic rock formations and water.
- Secondly, I would like to mention the utilization of geothermal energy, in particular its direct use for multiple purposes, including through cascading. Iceland has also long-term experience in the successful utilization of this energy source, for electricity production, space heating and cooling, food production, food conservation, health spas, cosmetics, medical purposes, tourism, etc.
- Iceland has also been running training programs for scientists and engineers from developing countries for decades. This has resulted technology transfers to many countries where geothermal industry is becoming more and more important, both economically but also no less important for the climate.
With these words I pass the floor to you Mr. chair.
Ávarpið var flutt á vefráðstefnu um loftslagsmál á vegum norrænu sendiráðanna í London, Norrænu ráðherranefndarinnar og Chatham House í aðdraganda loftslagsráðstefnu Sameinuðu þjóðanna, COP26.