The government of Greenland announced on July 15 that the territory will suspend all oil exploration and future plans due to environmental concerns and climate change, and aims to move full steam ahead with renewable energy.
What is Happening?
- The decision to suspend a 50-year oil exploration effort is monumental as the government considers the environmental impacts outweighs the financial benefits and potentials of becoming an oil producer.
- Greenland, an autonomous territory within the Kingdom of Denmark, has been eyeing to become an oil-producing nation as a path towards independence.
- Global Warming and the subsequent warmer temperatures could potentially lead to retreating ice exposing oil and mineral resources. However, exploration efforts since the 1970s have led to no avail and no oil has been discovered.
- The US Geological Survey (USGS) estimates around 17.5 billion undiscovered barrels of oil and 148 trillion cubic feet of natural gas contained in Greenland’s offshore area. In their 2007 report, North Danmarkshavn Salt Basin and the South Danmarkshavn Basin have been estimated to contain most of the undiscovered petroleum resources. But due to its remote location and often harsh climatic conditions, makes it difficult to navigate and explore.
- The current government, led by the Inuit Ataqatigiit party, will also plan to stop uranium mining in the southern region of the territory, as well as awarding oil exploration licenses. At the moment, Greenland still has four active hydrocarbon exploration licenses.
- Greenland is fully committed to transitioning into renewable energy and “takes the climate crisis seriously”.
“It is a decision where climate considerations, environmental considerations and economic common sense go hand in hand,” said the Minister of Natural Resources, Naaja Nathanielsen, in a government statement. “The future does not lie in oil. The future belongs to renewable energy, and in that respect we have much more to gain.”
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