It’s Thursday, July 22, and Greenland will keep it in the ground.

No one has ever drilled for oil in Greenland, and Greenland’s recently elected government wants to keep it that way. Despite estimates that there may be billions of barrels of oil and trillions of cubic feet of natural gas under the enormous Arctic island, the government of Greenland announced last week that it has decided to stop looking for it.

Greenland is a semi-autonomous Danish territory, and the fossil fuels buried under the island were once seen as the key to unshackle those golden handcuffs — Denmark subsidizes Greenland’s economy with $540 million per year. While oil exploration has thus far been unsuccessful on the island due in part to its frigid climate, Greenland’s oil and mineral resources are expected to become more accessible as the world warms and the island’s ice melts.

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But Greenland’s government, run by the leftist Inuit Ataqatiiq party since April, is no longer interested in pursuing an extraction-based economy. “The future does not lie in oil,” the Greenland government said in a statement. “The future belongs to renewable energy, and in that respect we have much more to gain.”

While the Greenland government will no longer look for oil on its own or grant new licenses to do so, two small companies that hold licenses to explore in and around the semi-autonomous territory can continue looking until those licenses expire.

Emily Pontecorvo

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