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Greenland Suspends Oil Exploration Because of Climate Change

    2021-7-21

    The government of Greenland has decided to suspend all oil exploration off the Arctic island’s coast. Officials say it is “a natural step” because the government “takes the climate crisis seriously.”

    No oil has been found yet around Greenland, which is a territory of The Kingdom of Denmark. But officials there had seen finding large amounts of oil as a way to help Greenlanders realize their dream of independence from Denmark. Greenland receives about $540 million each year from Denmark.

    Global warming means that melting ice could uncover possible oil and mineral resources. Those resources could greatly change the future of the territory of 57,000 people.

    FILE - In this file photo dated Thursday, Aug. 3, 2017, a glacier at left calves icebergs into a fjord off the Greenland ice sheet in southeastern Greenland. (AP Photo/David Goldman, FILE)
    FILE - In this file photo dated Thursday, Aug. 3, 2017, a glacier at left calves icebergs into a fjord off the Greenland ice sheet in southeastern Greenland. (AP Photo/David Goldman, FILE)

    “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. The government added that it “wants to take co-responsibility for combating the global climate crisis.”

    The decision was made June 24, but only made public last week.

    The U.S. Geological Survey estimates there could be 17.5 billion undiscovered barrels of oil and 148 trillion cubic feet of natural gas off Greenland, the world’s largest island. The island’s distant location and severe weather, however, have limited exploration.

    The current government has also stopped plans for uranium mining in southern Greenland.

    Greenland still has four active oil and gas exploration permits. They can be used as long as the two companies that hold them are actively exploring.

    The government’s decision to stop oil exploration was welcomed by the environmental group Greenpeace, which called the decision ”fantastic.”

    Denmark decides foreign, defense and security policies for Greenland. Denmark’s yearly financial support for Greenland makes up about two-thirds of the island’s economy.

    I’m Jonathan Evans.

    Jonathan Evans adapted this story for Learning English based on a report from the Associated Press. Susan Shand was the editor.

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    Words in This Story

    globaladj. involving the entire world

    barreln. a round usually wooden container with curved sides and flat ends; the amount contained in a full barrel

    fantasticadj. extremely good