Iceland and Norway join race for carbon neutrality

Four nations are currently in a race to become the first country in the world to be carbon neutral on a national scale, reports the Independent.

Iceland, Norway, New Zealand and Costa Rica are all engaged in greening their economies, although each is facing unique challenges in their quest for environmental friendliness.

The meeting of the Governing Council of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) in Monaco last month was the starting point for the race, when all four nations joined the Climate Neutral Network and vowed to go carbon neutral.

UNEP’s executive director, Achim Steiner, described the Climate Neutral Network as: “an idea whose time has come, driven by the urgent need to address climate change and the abundant economic opportunities emerging for those willing to embrace a transition to a green economy.”

According to Steiner, New Zealand will face a difficulties dealing with pollution produced from the agricultural sector. Norway, on the other hand, has high levels of emissions from gas and oil to overcome. For Iceland, the challenge will be “transport and industry, including fishing,” according to Steiner.

To date, Iceland has been the most successful country at developing energy from renewable sources. Geothermal energy currently provides hot water and heating for most of the buildings in the country, with only one per cent of homes heated by fossil fuels.

Icelandic Environment Minister, Thorunn Sveinbjarnardottir commented in a magazine produced by UNEP: “We have not entirely kicked our carbon habit. Our fishing fleets and our cars are still running on fossil fuels. Our car fleet is one of the biggest, per capita, in the world. And Icelanders tend to like big cars, as any visitor to our country will soon notice.”

To help, the government is offering discounts on eco-friendly vehicles and trying to power fishing boats with bio fuels and even hydrogen.

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