Greenland bans all oil exploration

The left-leaning government of Greenland has decided to suspend all oil exploration on the world’s largest island, saying this is a “natural step” because the Arctic government “takes the climate crisis seriously.”

No oil has been found around Greenland, but officials there believe that by cutting the equivalent of approximately US$680 million in subsidies from Canada to the Danish territory, it can help Greenlanders realize their long-standing dream of independence from Denmark by the Danish government every year.

Global warming means that the retreat of the ice layer may reveal potential oil and mineral resources. If these resources are successfully developed, it will greatly change the fate of this semi-autonomous territory with 57,000 people.

“The future does not lie in oil. The future belongs to renewable energy, and we have more to gain in this regard,” the Greenland government said in a statement. The government stated that it “hopes to share the responsibility for responding to the global climate crisis.”

The decision was made on June 24, but was announced on Thursday.

The U.S. Geological Survey estimates that there may be 17.5 billion barrels of undiscovered oil and 148 trillion cubic feet of natural gas near Greenland, despite the island’s remote location and severe weather restricting exploration.

Since the parliamentary elections in April, the current government led by the Inuit Ataqatigiit Party has immediately begun fulfilling its election promises and halting plans for uranium mining in southern Greenland.

Greenland still has four valid oil and gas exploration licenses, and it is obliged to maintain these licenses as long as the license holder is actively exploring. They are held by two small companies.

The government’s decision to stop oil exploration was welcomed by the environmental group Greenpeace, calling the decision “great.”

“My understanding is that the potential of the remaining licenses is very limited,” Mads Flarup Christensen, secretary general of Nordic Greenpeace, told Ingenioeren, a Danish weekly science and technology magazine.

Denmark decides on foreign, national defense and security policies, and provides annual funding to Greenland, which accounts for about two-thirds of the Arctic island’s economy.

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