Greenland suspends oil exploration due to climate change
July 17, 2021

Source: Inhouse illustration

One-liner: The Left-leaning govt of Greenland has decided to suspend all oil exploration off the world’s largest island, calling it is a natural step because the Arctic govt takes the climate crisis seriously.

Reducing dependency: No oil has been found yet around Greenland, but officials there had seen potentially vast reserves as a way to help Greenlanders realise their long-held dream of independence from Denmark by cutting the annual subsidy of 3.4 billion kroner ($540mn) the Danish territory receives.

Oil find will change fortunes: Global warming means that retreating ice could uncover potential oil and mineral resources which, if successfully tapped, could dramatically change the fortunes of the semi-autonomous territory of 57,000 people.

Future belongs to RE: “The future does not lie in oil. The future belongs to renewable energy, and in that respect, we have much more to gain.” - Greenland govt

  • The govt said it “wants to take co-responsibility for combating the global climate crisis.”
  • The decision was made June 24 but made public on Thursday

Oil & gas reserves: The US Geological Survey estimates there could be 17.5 billion undiscovered barrels of oil and 148 trillion cubic feet of natural gas off Greenland, although the island’s remote location and harsh weather have limited exploration.

New party’s decision: When the current govt, led by the Inuit Ataqatigiit party since an April’s parliamentary election, immediately began to deliver on election promises and stopped plans for uranium mining in southern Greenland.

Four exploration licenses: Greenland still has four active hydrocarbon exploration licenses, which it is obliged to maintain as long as the licensees are actively exploring. They are held by two small companies.

Greens welcome move: The govt’s decision to stop oil exploration was welcomed by environmental group Greenpeace, which called the decision fantastic.

  • “And my understanding is that the licenses that are left have very limited potential,” Mads Flarup Christensen, Greenpeace Nordic’s general secretary, told the weekly Danish tech-magazine Ingenioeren

Denmark support: Denmark decides foreign, defence and security policy, and supports Greenland with the annual grant that accounts for about two-thirds of the Arctic island’s economy.