TOKYO, June 30 -- Japan withdrew from the International Whaling Commission on Sunday after more than 60 years of membership, as it plans to resume commercial whaling amid criticism from anti-whaling states and conservation groups.
Japan exited the IWC in its first walkout from a major international organization in its postwar history after three decades of lobbying for the restart of commercial whaling. It remains unclear whether there will be any increase in demand for whale meat even if commercial hunting begins for the first time in 31 years. The decision came after Japan's latest proposal to resume commercial whaling was voted down at the annual IWC meeting last September. Tokyo had threatened to leave the international organization that remains divided between pro- and anti-whaling nations and others that support one side or the other. Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga has said the rejection at the September meeting "unveiled the fact that it is not possible in the IWC even to seek the coexistence of states with different views."
The IWC, founded in 1948, was originally composed of whaling nations, with its preamble stating that its purpose is to provide for the "proper conservation of whale stocks and thus make possible the orderly development of the whaling industry." But the organization has seen an increasing number of anti-whaling countries joining it. Japan halted commercial whaling in line with a moratorium adopted in 1982 by the IWC which Japan joined in 1951. However, it started hunting whales for what it claimed were research purposes in the Antarctic and northwest Pacific oceans in 1987 and in 1994, respectively, a practice criticized internationally as a cover for commercial whaling. Meat from the captured whales was sold domestically. Tokyo, meanwhile, had lobbied over the past 30 years for the restart of commercial whaling of relatively abundant species such as minke whales while still a member of the IWC. But its attempts had always been stymied by anti-whaling countries. Last December, the Japan government decided to pull out of the IWC, sparking criticism from members such as Australia and New Zealand as well as conservation group Greenpeace. Protein-rich whale meat was once a major source of nutrition in the postwar era when it was served in school lunches.
Japan will restart commercial whaling from Monday in nearby waters and within its exclusive economic zone but not in the Antarctic Ocean, where the country had carried out "scientific whaling" for what it said were research purposes. Even after the withdrawal, Japan said it will seek to contribute to preserving maritime resources by participating in the IWC as an observer and conduct whaling within the catch limits calculated by the IWC's method, according to Suga.
REYKJAVIK, June 19 -- Iceland is preparing for a deeper recession this year amid dropping tourism arrivals and a disastrous fishing season, central bank Governor Mar Gudmundsson said.
“We are prepared for the possibility of a deeper recession, and the numbers we are getting on tourist arrivals seem to indicate that that may happen,” Gudmundsson said in an interview on the sidelines of a conference in Dubrovnik, Croatia. “There may be a fall in tourism numbers to the 2016 level and this may have a significant effect on households, but hopefully we’ll be out of this early next year.” The bankruptcy of budget airline Wow Air delivered a blow to the Icelandic economy, prompting the central bank to cut its main interest rate by half a point to 4% last month. At the time, the central bank also said the economy will probably contract 0.4% this year. The revision comes amid a disastrous fishing season. “We have never been as well prepared in our history to deal with adverse situation as we are now,” he said. “We have policy space, with a lot of scope to cut rate if necessary.”
The government has also said that it’s standing by to boost stimulus should it be needed, preparing to trim planned surpluses.
ANKARA, June 10 -- Turkey criticized Iceland on Monday over "disrespectful" treatment of its national football team at the capital Reykjavik airport.
Turkey's Foreign Ministry issued a diplomatic note to Iceland via the Norwegian embassy to protest the "disrespectful" and "violent" behaviors against Turkish footballers during the passport control and demanded extra security measures for the players. Turkey's national football team arrived in Iceland late Sunday for UEFA EURO 2020 qualifications. The team was kept waiting for around three hours at passport control on Sunday night and their bags were repeatedly searched, reported state-run Anadolu Agency. Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said in his Twitter the treatment at the Iceland airport was "unacceptable" on diplomatic and humanitarian levels. Presidential spokesperson Ibrahim Kalin condemned the incident. Fahrettin Altun, communications director at the Turkish presidency, also said the treatment was "not in line with diplomatic courtesy or sportsmanlike conduct." Turkey will play Iceland for UEFA EURO 2020 qualifications Group H match on Tuesday.
Germany’s coal phase-out is one such sign that the region’s policymakers are keen to ensure strong leadership in the right direction, although such a radical transition is naturally not without its critics. While the idea of a Green New Deal for Europe – a “national, industrial, economic-mobilisation plan” – is nothing new, the emerging groundswell of public support for a large-scale transition to renewable energy is. For Brussels to achieve its ambitious climate goals of net-zero emissions by 2050, Europe’s energy infrastructure will need to be radically decarbonised, and the pieces for such a move are finally starting to fall into place.
Detractors have been quick to claim that decarbonisation is synonymous with de-industrialisation, as means of production with low carbon intensity would ruin the edge German companies have on their competitors. But as Europe’s energy transition gains momentum, such assumptions simply do not stand up to scrutiny anymore. It is a fact that investors and consumers alike are looking to pay a premium for “green” products that are produced with as small a carbon footprint as possible. And increasingly, they are finding themselves pushing against an open door. Earlier this year for example, MEPs announced they were looking to ease capital charges on banks’ green investments in a bid to drive investment into forward looking initiatives, such as electric vehicles and energy-efficient housing. Such global efforts to scale-up decarbonisation technology have led to innovations in the housing, energy and transportation sectors, but more investment is needed to ensure widespread adoption. Despite a persistent financing gap in low-carbon research and development initiatives, one thing remains clear: industrial decarbonisation is the next frontier for European development. Both a challenge and opportunity at the same time, failing to drive progress will have disastrous consequences may prove disastrous for the bloc’s industrial base. This is particularly true for Europe’s energy-intensive industries that need to combine ambitions for low carbon emissions and global competitiveness in their value chains. The use of innovative technologies, then, can achieve this double imperative in the chemical, cement, and non-ferrous metal sectors.
Particularly in primary aluminium production a number of technologies are being developed to reduce emissions and the energy used in the electrochemical processes. Inert, non-carbon anodes to reduce direct emissions are one such example, while wetted cathodes to improve electrical contact stand to reduce energy use in the production process by approximately one-fifth. Alternative materials are being developed in cement production as well to reduce the industry’s carbon footprint, with advanced grinding technologies and carbon-efficient concrete laying the foundation for a new era of manufacturing and construction. Yet the road to an industrial sector with zero carbon emissions is a winding one for a number of reasons. The sector’s heterogeneity means the number of crosscutting solutions is limited compared to other industries. Furthermore, industrial processes often inevitably produce carbon dioxide as by-product of chemical reactions, and these “process emissions” cannot simply be resolved with the same energy efficiency measures employed elsewhere. Finally, major retrofits in manufacturing plants are cyclical in nature, leaving a narrow window for reform.
But even then, offsetting solutions can be found to satisfy increasingly critical and demanding consumers. These lie in leveraging the EU’s trade connections, allowing EU downstream producers to benefit from other countries’ competitive advantages in raw material production. The aluminium sector displays this condition especially clearly. As a result of Europe’s production deficit, the EU needs to import the vast majority of its domestic aluminium – a figure that is slated to expand in years to come. But the downstream sector in need of primary aluminium can take advantage of closer trade within the European neighbourhood, where more low-carbon aluminium can be produced more easily.
The Norwegian, Icelandic and Russian aluminium industries are reliant on clean energy sources such as hydropower, which reduce emissions by up to 90% compared to coal. Rusal, for instance, exports some 1.6 million tonnes of the metal to the EU every year, and is using Siberia’s vast hydropower reserves to produce low-carbon aluminium. Some 90% of its output is produced this way, with plans to phase out the remaining 10% by 2020. Norway’s Norsk Hydro is another big aluminium exporter to Europe bent on greening its metal, which signed last year the longest corporate wind power contract to date. The 29-year long deal will provide clean energy from a wind plant in Sweden to its smelters in Norway. The aluminium sector is just one of many areas where greening of the value chain is in full swing. Because Brussels has renewed its push toward implementing the circular economy, more focus is not only placed on aluminium and its recycling, but other metals as well. The result, of course, is the mitigation of energy requirements and inevitable reduction of carbon emissions.
All naysayers notwithstanding, the data is rather clear: Europe’s industries must reduce their carbon footprint as a matter of urgency, and the window of opportunity for greener industries has never been more widely opened.
"but not everyone is happy as environmentalists are concerned about bitcoin mining's damaging effect on the land as the cryptocurrency's value halves"
REYKJAVIK, April 15 -- Marco Streng first visited Iceland to solve a simple problem. His bitcoin-computers were using ever more energy and the remote North Atlantic island had massive amounts of electricity at inexpensive rates.
He travelled no more than three kilometres from the airport terminal to an abandoned airstrip built by allied forces in World War II. This was in 2014 and the barren, windswept ground then seemed like an unlikely place for a financial district. The strip is now where international companies "mine" for bitcoins and other virtual currencies. Powerful computers, stacked inside long and grey warehouses, use more electricity than all Icelandic homes combined, according to a local energy firm.
"People don't give me a funny look any more when I explain my plans," Streng said. Raised in Bavaria, Germany, the 29-year-old was a maths prodigy on a glowing academic track until he began collecting digital coins. Being a bitcoin entrepreneur is the only job Streng has ever held. The new industry's relatively sudden growth is yet raising serious concerns for its environmental impact. Iceland's energy comes from hydroelectric dams and geothermal power plants, creating electricity without carbon emissions. But this "green" energy is not entirely environmentally friendly. Hydroelectric dams sink untouched land under water and alter rivers and waterfalls. Geothermal power plants are built over natural hot spring areas, spoiling the unique landscape.
"Iceland still has one of the biggest wilderness areas in Europe," said environmentalist Tomas Gudbjartsson, protesting the expansion of energy-infrastructure. "We will simply destroy these areas if we continue." Energy demand has developed because of the soaring cost of producing and collecting virtual currencies. Computers are used to make the complex calculations that verify a running ledger of all the transactions in virtual currencies around the world. In return, the miners claim a fraction of a coin not yet in circulation. In the case of bitcoin, a total of 21 million can be mined, with about 3.3 million left to create. As more bitcoins enter circulation, more powerful computers are needed to keep up with the calculations - and that means more energy.
According to Dutch bitcoin analyst Alex de Vries, who operates a Bitcoin Energy Consumption Index on the website Digiconomist, bitcoin energy consumption is still on the rise globally, after receding late last year following a drop in value. Earlier this month, authorities in China, where coal-rich regions host the world's biggest cryptocurrency mining farms, announced plans to crack down on the industry completely, claiming massive energy waste and pollution. The move is expected to load pressure on Iceland and other areas still welcoming the business. "They are great customers," said Johann Snorri Sigurbergsson, business development manager at the local energy firm HS Orka, as he praised the bitcoin farms for steady and stable energy usage. "The computers are just always on, always running on maximum capacity." HS Orka provides electricity to the southwestern Reykjanes peninsula where the cryptocurrency "farms" are largely based. Over the past year, the region's energy supply has been nearly exhausted and HS Orka is expanding its capacity with a hydroelectric dam in the remote Tungufljot river, near the Great Geysir hot spring tourist attraction.
REYKJAVIK, September 2 -- Icelandic scientists concluded on Monday there were three possibilities for the future development of the Bardarbunga volcano which is still charted in the color-code of orange for possible eruption, according to the Icelandic Met Office (IMO).
Three possible scenarios were considered most likely in the Bardarbunga volcano situation after a discussion among officials and experts from the IMO and the Institute of Earth Sciences and representatives of the Civil Protection in Iceland at a meeting of the Advisory Board, said the IMO.
Other possibilities were not excluded by the attendees, such as an eruption inside the Bardarbunga caldera could also happen.
The IMO said, seismicity continues to migrate northward and was now concentrated on the 10 km long tip of the dike extending 5 km beyond the edge of the Dyngjujokull glacier.
The dike beneath Dyngjujokull was now believed to be 35 km long. Modeling of GPS data indicates that it contains about 300 million cubic meters of magma.
ROTTERDAM, August 24 -- Iceland has issued a red alert to aviation after indications of a possible eruption under the country's biggest glacier, the Vattnajokull.
The Icelandic Met Office warned that a small eruption had taken place under the Dyngjujokull ice cap.
Seismic activity is continuing at the Bardarbunga volcano, about 30km away. Airspace over the site has been closed, but all Icelandic airports currently remain open, authorities say. A Europe-wide alert has also been upgraded. European air safety agency Eurocontrol said it would produce a forecast of likely ash behaviour every six hours.
Iceland's Eyjafjallajokull volcano erupted in 2010, producing ash that severely disrupted air travel. The red alert is the highest warning on the country's five-point scale. Flooding threatThe Icelandic Met Office said a team of scientists was flying across the region on Saturday afternoon to monitor seismic activity.
"The eruption is considered a minor event at this point," police said in a statement. "Because of pressure from the glacier cap, it is uncertain whether the eruption will stay sub-glacial or not."
24 aug. 07:09: 5,3 earthquake, 113km WNW of Hofn, Iceland, 5 km deep, at 64,686°,-17,351°