Greenland Aiming to Opt Out of Paris Climate Accord

Published January 6, 2016

Even before the ink dried on the UN climate agreement developed in Paris, Greenland is angling to opt out of its commitments under the accord due to its impacts on the territory’s energy sector. 

“We still have the option of making a territorial opt-out to COP21,” Kim Kielsen, the prime minister of Greenland, said during a visit to Copenhagen in mid-December. “We have an emissions quota of 650,000 tons of CO2, which is the same as a single coal-fired power plant in Denmark, or a minor Danish city.” 

Travel an Issue

Greenland, a self-governing territory within the Kingdom of Denmark, is geographically roughly the size of Mexico while the population is smaller than the Cayman Islands’ making Greenland the least densely populated country in the world. With its population so widely dispersed, the commonest mode of transportation for locals is light planes which emit a great deal of carbon dioxide during their operation.

Keilsen says the signatories to the Paris agreement should take account of Greenland’s unique transportation when considering its decision to relax its emission standards. In addition Greenland has unique issues related to heating due to its extended winter conditions. Greenland’s natural cloudiness and extended periods of low light conditions mean solar power cannot make a significant contribution to Greenland’s power supply and wind power’s effectiveness is largely limited to Southern Greenland where the wind blows fairly regularly. 

Danish Prime Minister Lars Loekke Rasmussen said Denmark would ratify the climate accord and allow Greenland and the Faroe Islands, another autonomous territory within the Kingdom of Denmark, to make their own decisions with regard to emission reductions.

[NOTE: The Heartland Institute was in Paris for COP-21, and put on a one-day “counter conference” featuring the world’s leading scientists and policy experts skeptical of the unproven hypothesis of man-caused global warming. See all their activities here.]

H. Sterling Burnett, Ph.D., ([email protected]) is the managing editor of Environment & Climate News.