Photo wili_hybrid @ flickr.
There's always an irony or two in the daily news, and today is no exception: Greenland, the world's largest island, is suffering from the effects of global warming at about twice the rate of the rest of the globe (except for Antarctica).
But, Greenland's 56,000 inhabitants recently voted to more thoroughly achieve independence from Denmark. One of the reasons Greenlanders want go beyond the Home Rule system it has been governed under is to get control of the oil and natural gas reserves under the ice sheet that covers more than 80 percent of the country. To many Greenlanders, global warming (which would lead to fewer ice-free days and make drilling for oil somewhat less costly) is considered a good thing!
"Oil and gas exploration is one of the cornerstones of Greenland's future economy."
That was Kim Kielsen, Greenland's Minister for Minerals and Petroleum, talking to the AFP.
Greenland from ice to industry
Meanwhile, Greenland's union groups and business union Nusuka have gone on record saying that Greenland shouldn't be subjected to Kyoto 2 controls scheduled to be agreed on in Copenhagen next year. In fact, in the opinion of these groups, Greenland should be allowed to emit more carbon dioxide as it turns into an industrial nation. Not exactly towing the CO2-lowering line of its Danish political brothers hosting the talks!
Not only does Greenland plan to go on with oil and gas exploration (11 prospecting licenses have been granted in the past two years between the 59th and 71st parallels, according to AFP), it has seen an upswing in licenses for minerals such as gold, diamonds, rubies, iron, zink, lead and uranium. Greenland also hopes to build an aluminum smelter that alone would increase current CO2 emissions from the island 75%.
Depending on Denmark for CO2 reductions
To make matters worse, this fall high methane-gas emissions were discovered emanating from wetlands in Northeast Greenland by surprised Swedish researchers. Currently, most of the Greenland's counted CO2 emissions are from fishing and heating. Greenland is not on course to meet current Kyoto reductions, but Denmark has agreed to make further reductions to help Greenland.
As Greenland moves toward self-rule, it will need revenues in order to pay for services and bureaucracy currently paid for by the Danes. Yet Greenland's premier and politicians warn that the island can't just opt out of Kyoto 2.
Juliane Henningsen, one of the Greenland's two representatives in Danish parliament told the Danish newspaper Information:
‘When we live at ground zero of climate change, we must also take responsibility. I think businesses and the government should work together to develop a strategy for how we can reduce our CO2 emissions. When many world leaders go to Greenland to see the melting ice, it's embarrassing that we do not even have a climate strategy."