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Potentially oil-rich Greenland has vowed to end excavation for fossil fuels, its socialist government announced on Thursday.
International environmental groups including Greenpeace are cheering the decision, asking “Who’s next?” on social media.
Greenland’s leaders called the decision a “natural step” as the Arctic nation “takes the climate crisis seriously,” they said, according to an Associated Press report.
“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,” they said in an official statement.
While Greenland is not currently extracting fossil fuels, experts believe the country could be sitting upon vast reserves — an estimated 17.5 billion barrels of oil and 148 trillion cubic feet of natural gas, according to the US Geological survey — which is becoming increasingly accessible as the now mostly frozen landscape thaws due to climate change.
To tap the wells would dramatically shift the economy of the semiautonomous Danish territory, whose population of 57,000 has long vied for full independence. Presently, Denmark provides for about two-thirds of Greenland’s budget.
But the current government — led by the Inuit Ataqatigiit party, which prevailed in April elections — has stated that oil is not the answer.
“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, adding that it “wants to take co-responsibility for combating the global climate crisis.”