Greenland suspends oil and mineral exploration to take ‘climate crisis seriously’

The Greenland Government announced that they will suspend all oil exploration off the the world’s largest island, calling it is “a natural step” because the government “takes the climate crisis seriously.”

Greenland rests on vast oil reserves and sought to find more reserves offshore with hopes of subsidies from Denmark, approximately $540 million.

“The future does not lie in oil. The future belongs to the renewable energy and in that respect we have much more to gain,” the Greenland government said in a statement. It “wants to take co-responsibility for combating the global climate crisis.”

Kalistat Lund, the country’s minister for agriculture, self-sufficiency, energy and environment, said that the government “takes climate change seriously.”

“We can see the consequences in our country every day, and we are ready to contribute to global solutions to counter climate change,” Lund said.

“Naalakkersuisut is working to attract new investments for the large hydropower potential that we cannot exploit ourselves. The decision to stop new exploration for oil will contribute to place Greenland as the country where sustainable investments are taken seriously.”

The decision was made June 24 but made public Thursday.

The U.S. 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.

The government also announced that it has sent out a draft bill for consultation that would ban preliminary investigation, exploration and extraction of uranium.

Uranium, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, is a widely-used radioactive element that is now primarily used as fuel for nuclear energy. There are several ways to extract uranium, but all of them, according to the EPA, produce radioactive waste.

“The Greenlandic population has based its livelihood on the country’s natural resources for centuries, and the ban on uranium mining is rooted in a profound belief that business activities must take nature and the environment into account,” Naalakkersuisut said in a statement.

photo/ Pete Linforth

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