Photo via the Stitch
You might think that one of the world's foremost examples of the impact of climate change would be deterred from making exceptionally pollution-heavy plans for development. You'd be wrong. Despite the fact that global warming is causing its important glaciers to melt astonishingly fast, Greenland is on track to become one of the world's most polluting countries. If all goes according to its industry-heavy plans, each of the nation's residents will soon be emitting more than 8 times the average American. According to news from the UN,
Greenland's melting glaciers are textbook examples of man-made global warming. Yet, the island's new prime minister Kuupik Kleist has no plans to reduce the country's CO2 emissions. On the contrary, Greenland's emissions could rise from 650,000 tonnes to 10 million tonnes, if the local administration succeeds in attracting new industries, the prime minister saysIf Greenland's plans come to fruition, the average resident of the giant, sparsely populated nation would be emitting some 160 tons of greenhouse gases--8.5 times what's emitted by the average American. And since US citizens are the second most carbon-intensive in the world, this does not bode well for Greenlanders.
The rise from 650,000 tons of CO2 emitted per year to 10 million is an astronomical one, and it's exactly the kind of high-emissions growth that many nations are trying to avoid at all costs. Take the Maldives, for example--with rising sea levels threatening to swallow the island nation whole, it's another 'textbook' example of global warming--but it's resolved to become a carbon neutral nation, not pollute more.
Greenland's glaciers are receding
But Greenland appears steadfast in its industry-heavy plans, even with the global climate talks approaching in December. The nation argues that it should be allowed to develop, so as to no longer rely on subsidies from Denmark: "It is very important ... to find a solution with Denmark. But we may be forced into a situation in which we will have to remain outside a climate agreement and not accept obligations to reduce emissions," [Kuupik Kliest] says.
Denmark, however, says Greenland's demands are downright unreasonable, and that letting the nation emit so much is out of the question. "It is difficult to argue in favour of one of the places hardest hit by climate change being allowed to emit eight-and-a-half times as much as the average American," says Denmark Climate Minister Connie Hedegaard. She says that Greenland's plans will make it one of the most polluting countries in the world--and all the while, its glaciers will be melting away, right next door.
More on Greenland and Climate Change
Greenland Glacier About to Lose Manhattan-sized Ice Chunk (Video)
Is it Time to Bid Greenland Farewell?