Brit Liggett

Denmark Announces Plans to Develop the Arctic for Oil and Gas Drilling

by , 08/24/11

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The tiny country of Denmark is making a rather bold push to open the Arctic region to commercial industry — mainly for the drilling of oil, gas and rare earth minerals. The Danish foreign ministry announced that as the ice around the Arctic melts (read: as climate change progresses) the region will become increasingly accessible to industry. On Monday Denmark announced its 10-year “Arctic Strategy”, which focuses on opening up shipping lanes and drilling areas that are being exposed as the climate changes. Historically, countries around the world have pushed to keep the Arctic undeveloped as a sort of nature preserve. But if we understand this correctly, Denmark — the world’s pioneer in wind power generation — wants to take advantage of climate change by opening up the Arctic to oil, gas and mineral drilling, the very industries that caused the Arctic to start melting in the first place.

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In order to make its development dreams come true Denmark and its cohorts Greenland and the Faroe Islands must get past the eight countries — the US, Canada, Russia, Norway, Denmark, Sweden, Finland and Iceland — abutting the arctic which have seats on the Arctic Counsel, the group that decides the ice cap’s fate. The mission of the three countries behind the “Arctic Strategy” is purely economic and seems to push aside the vast environmental concerns that arise when talking about such a large untouched natural area.

The three countries aren’t even attempting to hide their avarice. Lene Eperson, the Danish Minister of Foreign Affairs, told the Wall Street Journal, “Previously, the discussion about the Arctic region has focused on the environment, on whether we oughtn’t to turn the region into one large natural preserve. But Denmark, Greenland and the Faroe Islands have agreed that we want to utilize the commercial and economic potential of the area.”

The strategy does include mention of environmental standards that would be put in place and monitored across the Arctic, but even with environmental standards in place just the entry of industry onto this pristine land will cause major environmental disruptions.

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Denmark’s first plan of action is to transfer power over the Arctic from the Arctic Counsel to the UN, which it believes will be more lenient with regulation. Then the hope is to draw territories between the five countries that currently have claim to the mass and allow them to individually develop their own plots. Greenland, Denmark and the Faroe Islands stand to benefit greatly from development, being so close to the Arctic Circle.

“With the new strategy we are opening up for international corporations from the whole world to come to the Arctic and to Greenland. The signal we are sending is that we will welcome them with open arms, we are not nervous, we are not afraid of letting industry into the area,” Ms. Espersen said, adding that all investments will be subject to strict environmental regulation.

We sometimes feel the need to refrain from repeating ourselves, but apparently at times it is necessary. Why can’t we all focus on putting our energy and intelligence into creating renewable resources? Resources that will actually power our future, rather than hold to oil, gas and mineral reserves that are destroying our earth as we extract them — particularly as they are soon to be dried up anyway.

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1 Comment

  1. caeman August 24, 2011 at 1:47 pm

    I guess this is where I have to admit my support for the enviro-hippies. We plenty of other regions to plunder for its natural resources. Let us leave the arctic alone for the time being.

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