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Greenland’s sources, between environmental safety and the temptation of revenue

Greenland is on the coronary heart of the plot within the Danish sequence Borgen, energy and glorywhich follows the three seasons of Borgen. A lady in energy (efficiently broadcast in additional than 60 nations), a saga which is in keeping with political sequence, Westwing at Home of Playing cards. The scriptwriters think about that a big oil reserve is found within the subsoil of Greenland, which stirs up the appetites of traders and the good powers.

This “inexperienced nation”, an unlimited territory of almost 2.2 million sq. kilometres, has been hooked up to Denmark for a very long time, a connection usually badly skilled by the inhabitants, after having even been a Danish colony till 1953. In 1979, the island has attained the standing of “autonomous territory” and its financial system continues to be closely depending on subsidies paid by Copenhagen.

If some Greenlanders declare higher autonomy and even independence, and denounce Danish “colonization” (carried out from the 18e century by Danish missionaries corresponding to Hans Egede, nicknamed “the Apostle of Greenland” and founding father of town of Nuuk, in the present day’s capital of the territory), the native inhabitants of 57,000 inhabitants finds itself in a troublesome scenario, marked by the corruption and a excessive suicide charge amongst Greenlanders, usually affected by melancholy, alcoholism and the despair linked to the grey and chilly local weather and the shortage of prospects.

Coveted uncooked supplies

Greenland, at a time of world warming and melting ice (its ice cap has misplaced 4.7 million billion liters of water since 2002), has grow to be an more and more coveted territory, significantly for its very pure water reserves.

A lot in order that some entrepreneurs, seeing on this treasure a juicy monetary windfall, go as far as to promote this water on the similar worth as nice Bordeaux wines, as an article within the newspaper explains. The world. “He sells them for as much as 12 euros every. [bouteille], in China, within the Gulf nations, in the USA and even in Denmark. The Inland Ice model, additionally distributed in gourmand eating places, guarantees water that has “the purity of prehistory” and the “style of 100 thousand years in the past”. Mr. Vildersboll, who beforehand labored within the oil business, sees it as “new oil”.

Icebreaker within the Arctic.
Koptyaev Igor/Shutterstock

Along with this “blue gold”, Greenland is filled with mineral wealth in its subsoil, corresponding to iron, nickel, gold and uncommon metals, corresponding to cobalt, extremely coveted in the present day as a result of they’re needed for the manufacture of telephones. laptops. Jeff Bezos and Invoice Gates are additionally on the spot, nonetheless based on The world :

“KoBold Metals, the corporate by which they’re shareholders and which makes use of synthetic intelligence to discover new deposits, launched its first drilling close to Disko Bay, within the south-west of the nation, in March, as a way to to prospect for nickel, copper and cobalt. »

The island additionally comprises uranium, a deposit of rubies and rock flour, a silt-rich mud that might, “based on analysis by a Danish geologist, assist make arid areas all over the world fertile”.

Lastly, Greenland has giant deposits of valuable sand, whereas the sand that’s scarce is very coveted for the development of buildings.

Greenland, whose identify means “inexperienced nation”, may additionally benefit from world warming to have interaction in agriculture.

On the coronary heart of main geopolitical points

The nation can also be the middle of main geopolitical points: certainly, because the journalist Julien Bouissou analyzes, “in a area which has formally been a part of the American sphere of affect because the Monroe doctrine of 1823, and the signing of ‘a treaty between Copenhagen and Washington in 1951, the mining business can function a Malicious program for Chinese language affect’.

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The island is coveted by the USA, Russia and China. “In 2018, Greenland has […] refused a Chinese language mortgage to finance the development of two airports. On the similar time, Washington superior its pawns. In 2020, the USA, which already has a navy base in Thule with superior ballistic missile warning techniques and a satellite tv for pc monitoring station, opened its first consulate in Nuuk. . »

As well as, the nation is situated close to the brand new “Northern Route” which might enable, due to the melting of the Arctic ice, container cargo ships from China to make the journey to Europe extra shortly. solely by the beforehand present maritime routes.

In direction of an “environmental exception”?

In July 2021, the self-governing authorities of Greenland, led by an environmentalist majority, nevertheless determined to ban oil exploration and exploitation on the island, as a way to keep away from damaging the pure atmosphere. It’s a historic determination, a Copernican reversal, which consists in placing ecological imperatives earlier than these of financial revenue.

There’s certainly the problem of preserving nature and the ecosystem in Greenland, the place growing urbanization and mining are inflicting a gradual extinction of natural world (with the disappearance of whales specifically).

Ought to we subsequently put the difficulty of financial revenue earlier than the difficulty of the preservation of world heritage, as advocated by Unesco? This worldwide cultural establishment, which created the record of world cultural and pure heritage in 1972, listed the Ilulissat fjord there in 2004, a exceptional pure web site and the one vestige within the northern hemisphere of the final ice age of the Quaternary.

Ilulissat Fjord.
Wikimedia, CC BY-NC-SA

This classification generates tourism, which raises, as on different categorized websites on this planet, the query of the stress between preservation and tourism. The crucial of preservation additionally relates not solely to nature, but additionally to the tradition of Greenland: safety of the vernacular language, Greenlandic Inuktitut (or Kalaallisut), a uncommon language of the Eskimo-Aleut household, in the present day threatened extinction as a consequence of urbanization and cultural globalization.

Does this imply that an “environmental exception” must be created, simply as there’s a “cultural exception”? Keep in mind that it was France that popularized this notion of cultural exception, which signifies that tradition shouldn’t be thought of as a commodity like another, a easy object of revenue, however as a superior good, to which everybody will need to have entry. UNESCO then universalized this conception, by adopting in 2005 the Conference on Cultural Variety, which entered into power in 2007.

Might Greenland then assert each the cultural exception and the environmental exception, that’s to say put the imperatives of preserving its distinctive pure atmosphere and its Inuit tradition earlier than the predatory stakes of revenue? monetary ? Greenlanders to determine.

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