Greenland’s government has decided to stop all oil exploration off the world’s largest island, describing the decision as “a natural step” since the Arctic government “takes the climate crisis seriously.”
“The Greenlandic government believes that the price of oil extraction is too high. This is based upon economic calculations, but considerations of the impact on climate and the environment also play a central role in the decision,” the government stated in a news release.
“Against this background, Naalakkersuisut has decided to cease issuing new licenses for oil and gas exploration in Greenland. This step has been taken for the sake of our nature, for the sake of our fisheries, for the sake of our tourism industry, and to focus our business on sustainable potentials,” the government added.
Because of global warming, retreating ice could reveal potential oil and mineral resources, which, if successfully exploited, could dramatically change the fortunes of the 57,000-strong semiautonomous territory.
“The future does not lie in oil. The future belongs to renewable energy, and in that respect we have much more to gain,” the Greenland government said in a statement.
The decision was made on June 24, but it was only made public on Thursday, July 15.
According to Reuters, companies like ExxonMobil and Shell have attempted to drill for oil in Greenland since the 1970s but have mainly failed. The island’s remote position and extreme weather have limited exploration. However, the U.S. Geological Survey calculates that there could be 17.5 billion undiscovered barrels of oil and 148 trillion cubic feet of natural gas off the island’s west coast.
As a result, some officials hoped that Greenland would find oil and that the cash gained would allow the country to achieve economic independence from Denmark, the AP noted.
Greenland’s government “takes climate change seriously,” said Kalistat Lund, Minister for Agriculture, Self-Sufficiency, Energy, and Environment.
“BOOM. Greenland bans all new oil exploration due to #ClimateEmergency and environmental concerns. No time to lose. Who’s next?” Greenpeace, an environmental non-profit, celebrated the decision on Twitter.