The following article is based on my own interpretation of the said events. Any material borrowed from published and unpublished sources has been appropriately referenced. I will bear the sole responsibility for anything that is found to have been copied or misappropriated or misrepresented in the following post.
Mohit Kharkwal, MBA 2015-17, Vinod Gupta School of Management, IIT Kharagpur
For close to 300 years Greenland was a Danish colony. It was only in 1979 that Greenland was given home rule by the Danish government. But Greenlander’s are united to gain full independence. They say that Danes neglect Greenlandic culture, are patronising and overbearing. This is reflected in the referendum that was done in 2008. A vast majority voted to be free from from Denmark’s rule and want to have independent nation with its own foreign policy. This referendum gave them control of law, law enforcement and coast guard. It also changed official language from Danish to Greenlandic. They are, however, still not fully independent and depend on Denmark for a lot of things.
One of it is economy. Greenland’s economy is close to 2 billion dollars and the aid that Denmark give to it every year is about 650 million dollars. So Greenland with its gigantic size and a tiny population of less that 60000 coupled with a weak economy and rampant unemployment is considered nowhere ready to be granted full sovereign status.
But these issues regarding economy have taken a dramatic turn. More than 52 billion barrels of oil was recently discovered in Greenland’s territorial waters. Moreover as the ban on mining on Uranium has been lifted, of which Greenland has substantial reserves, demands for full independence is starting to get louder. It is believed these reserves could give Greenland unprecedented and sustainable wealth.
So it is also clear why Greenland decided to opt out of Paris climate change deal of January 2016. Following the deal would have meant that they could not tap into their reserves and as such not gain independence. So we also find a unique dilemma for Greenlanders. They are the nation which is most heavily hit by effects of global warming. Melting of ice is causing serious issues to their ecology and lifestyle but at the same time it is making the northern areas of the country which are rich in oil, accessible. So a very careful line is to be walked here by Greenland’s politicians.
If they gain independence thinking oil and mineral will give them economic independence they might seriously damage their ecology and if they don’t open the pits they will not see independence. One thing is for sure though. Greenland independence could take anywhere from 8 to 50 years to materialise. Most probable year seems to be 2021, the 300th year of Danish colonial rule.