Greenland has effectively banned all future exploration for oil or gas in their territories, putting climate concerns above investments.

In April 2021, Greenland elected their Inuit Ataqatigiit (IA) party to lead their parliament, ousting the incumbent Siumut party. Where the two parties, both socialist, mostly differed was on the matters of oil drilling, mining, and economic independence from Denmark.

Greenland is a territory of the Kingdom of Denmark, one of three constituent countries along with Denmark and the Faroe Islands. Greenland, the largest island in the world, is home to under 60,000 people, and three quarters of the island is under the only terrestrial ice sheet outside of Antarctica. Fishing accounts for almost 90 percent of the national income, but in 2007, mining and oil exploration began to make inroads.

Seventy-six percent of Greenlandic voters favor independence from Denmark. The country has already left the EU, while Denmark has not. But Mainland Denmark still pays more than half of Greenland’s bills. The fishing trade cannot support the country’s $600 million annual budget, so Copenhagen subsidizes the country with a grant of 3.2 billion Danish kroner ($364 million) a year.

The uninhabited west coast of Greenland, which is buried under the Greenland ice sheet, is estimated to contain about 18 billion barrels of oil by a recent geological survey. But a 2020 survey of the ice sheet indicated that the sheet is melting at an alarming rate, if not quite as fast as Antarctica. To this end, the country will no longer grant any license, to anyone, for oil or gas exploration in the vicinity of the sheet.

Some mineral exploration will be allowed, such as copper and cold, but no fossil fuels. Even though tapping that oil could easily allow Greenland to finally make their break from Denmark, the current government thinks the price of oil extraction, and then of having that much additional fossil fuel in circulation, is too high.

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