Greenland’s government announced on Thursday that it would stop issuing licenses for oil and gas exploration, saying the autonomous Danish territory takes “climate change 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 said 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 continued.
According to The Associated Press, the decision was made on June 24 but publicized Thursday.
Since the 1970s, companies such as ExxonMobil and Shell have tried to drill for oil in Greenland but mostly failed in their efforts, Reuters reported. However, the government said that a recent Geological Survey of Denmark and Greenland study said there may be 18 billion derisked barrels on the island's west coast.
Some officials were hopeful that Greenland would find oil so that the revenue generated could provide some economic independence from Denmark, the AP reported.
Reuters notes that the government relies on its fishing industry for revenue.
Greenland’s government “takes climate change seriously,” Minister for Agriculture, Self-sufficiency, Energy and Environment Kalistat Lund said in a statement.
The environmental nonprofit group Greenpeace praised the decision on Twitter, saying, "BOOM. Greenland bans all new oil exploration due to #ClimateEmergency and environmental concerns. No time to lose. Who’s next?"