proposal on Single
Iceland, one of the world’ richest countries, is seeking special rules that would allow it massive
increase in GHG emissions. Iceland’ proposal on single projects should be withdrawn, and
Iceland should play its full part within the Kyoto Protocol.
At COP 4 in Buenos Aires in November 1998 Iceland submitted a proposal on single
projects which says
“… process emissions from a single project, which comes into operation after 1990
and adds in the first commitment period more than five percent to the total
greenhouse gases of a Party listed in Annex B to the Protocol shall be reported
separately and not included in the national totals to the extent that they would cause
a Party to exceed its assigned amount, provided that global emissions of the Party
were less than 0.05% of total Annex 1 emissions in 1990; renewable energy is used
resulting in a reduction in emissions per unit of production; and best available
practice is used to minimize process emissions.”1
At COP 5 the Icelandic proposal was deferred to COP 6 in the Hague.
Iceland’ proposal is based on the following Decision 1/CP.3 (d) of the Kyoto
“Consideration or if, and as, appropriate, action on suitable methodologies to
address the situation of Parties listed in Annex B to the Protocol for which single
projects would have significant proportional impact on emissions in the commitment
According to information provided last year by the Icelandic delegation2, the single
project proposal will lead to an increase in emissions from Iceland by as much as
67.4% from 1990 levels in 2010, based only on present project proposals. This is on
top of the 10% increase in GHG emissions granted to Iceland in the Kyoto Protocol.
In 1995 the government of Iceland decided that “… obligations to limit emissions of
greenhouse gases should not prevent new energy-intensive industrial development
[i.e. single projects] in the country, which would take advantage of the country’s
Single projects refer to aluminium smelters, ferrosilicon plants, magnesium plants and other energy
clean energy sources. … ”3 Already, the government of Iceland has granted operation
licences to projects which will lead to an increase by 45.5% from 1990, whereas
without the single projects Iceland’ emissions will have increased by 12.3% by 2010.
It appears that Iceland is making excessive use of Decision 1/CP.3 of the Kyoto
Protocol in order to vastly increase emissions from single projects or energy intensive
To illustrate, this proposal would cover a new aluminium smelter, which was
proposed in 1997. With a production capacity of 360 thousand tonnes a year, it would
increase emissions from Iceland by some 22%. The smelter is to be built in eastern
Iceland by the Norwegian multi national Norsk Hydro, which ironically has
committed itself to reducing CO2 emissions from its activities.
A government-commissioned report, published in April 1999, concluded that even
including these single projects currently in operation, Iceland could meet the
obligations set by the Kyoto Protocol without excessive burden on the Icelandic
economy. Furthermore, the committee concluded that if emissions do increase
dramatically Iceland had two options: stay outside the Kyoto Protocol or accede to the
Protocol and secure emission licences by purchasing emission quotas or by joint
implementation. Furthermore, Iceland has large potential for domestic sinks and land
CNE/CAN calls on Parties to reject Iceland’ proposal. Iceland is one of the richest
countries in the world, with great renewable energy potential and other options for
compliance with Kyoto. Multinationals like Norsk Hydro should take part in
greenhouse gas abatements in Iceland rather than play role of a free rider, as would be
the case if Iceland’ proposal is adopted. Arguments that energy intensive industry
such as aluminium smelters are better placed in Iceland than elsewhere because they
will be driven by clean energy may have some validity, but it does not mean that
emissions should not be accounted and paid for.
Increase in Emissions from Iceland due to Single Projects
Annual Production (thousand tonnes) Year
1. Enlargement of an aluminium smelter 162 1998
2. Enlargement of a ferrosilicon plant 115 2000
3. New aluminium smelter under construction 60 1999
4. A new aluminium smelter (Norsk Hydro) 240 2007
under negotiation (decision due February 1st 360 2008
2022. 480 ?
5. Possible magnesium plant 50 ?4
See http://www.unfccc.org/resource/docs/1999/sbsta/misc03a01.htm for more information on the
Icelandic proposal. See http://www.climnet.org for CNE positions on Kyoto Protocol issues.
Iceland 2nd Status Report to UNFCCC.
This project is in the feasibility study stage. No dates can be given at this point.