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Earth Hour Header 2014
EARTH HOUR REYKJAVIK SHEDS LIGHT ON ENERGY EFFICIENCY AND PERSONAL RESPONSIBILITY
With great success, 2012 marked the first year of Reykjavik’s participation in Earth Hour. The Division of Environment and Transport and volunteers like Svala Georgsdóttir and Maríanna Friðjónsdóttir lead the effort to bring the Reykjavik community together to build awareness of, and participation in the event.
Gunnar Hersveinn, who oversaw the event, said the goal was to heighten awareness and challenge all people living in the city of Reykjavik and throughout Iceland to take part by turning the lights out in every home, business and government building. The city encouraged the community to create actionable dialog about what can be done now and in the future to become stronger citizens for the environment. There was a strong focus on personal responsibility, which was reinforced by the city’s leadership and the significant amount of press coverage and support the event received in local media.
Reykjavik honored the occasion further by turning off all streetlights in the central town and in the revered harbor area from 20:30 to 21:30 on March 31. Many gathered at Arnarhóll in the center of Reykjavik to watch and celebrate as the city went dark.
“Iceland is continuously looking for ways to seal the gap to become as close to 100 percent renewable as possible and at the same time looking for ways to manage the negative aspects of energy usage, for example through carbon recycling,” said Guðmundur Árni Stefánsson Iceland’s Ambassador to the United States.
“Over 80 percent of Iceland‘s total energy use is derived from renewable energy sources and close to 100 percent of space heating in Iceland is based on geothermal energy,” said Stefánsson. “The Peace light is powered by geothermal energy,” added Hlynur Gudjonsson, Consul and Trade Commissioner, Consulate General of Iceland.
Other notable areas where Iceland is exploring new avenues of environmental leadership and responsibly include experiments with wind farming, reduction of dioxin pollution from waste management and innovation in the automotive, technology and marine & fisheries industries.
For example, Icelandic startups like GreenQloud offer cloud storage and servers with the goal of creating a “sustainable public compute cloud.” And, Carbon Recycling International, a company leading the charge to recycle the CO2 emissions generated by the country’s geothermal plants into Renewable Methanol, has opened near the famed Blue Lagoon spa-- itself a well received solution created to deal with the output generated by a nearby geothermal plant.
Energy efficiency and a commitment to fostering a better tomorrow stretch beyond the policies and efforts of Icelandic government and businesses, however, to the citizens of Iceland themselves. The draw back of cost-effective perceived-infinite energy resources, such as those in Iceland, is the reduced sense of individual responsibility and mindfulness of day-to-day solutions. Even small changes of habit such as hang drying laundry, shutting off lights when not in use, reducing the length of showers, buying locally or walking and biking to errands rather than driving can collectively make a world of difference.
Paula Gould is a public relations executive and writer known for her expertise in a broad scope of interest areas. She has appeared in articles in the Wall Street Journal, PRSA and other news and trade media. Paula has contributed articles to News Corp's The Daily, Byline Magazine (The New York Press Club's Annual), SXSWorld, INmag (Hollywood), AltPick and for G4’s Best of the Best Show at CES 2008-2012.