Greenland Joins the Paris Agreement on Climate Change

It has been decided that Greenland will join the Paris Agreement and design a national climate strategy. The strategy will set out climate objectives and the direction in which the island will achieve economic growth with the green shift. (Photo: Lisa Ouellette)

The Parliament of Greenland, Inatsisartut, has decided that the island will join the Paris Agreement on climate policy and design a national climate strategy. "I am proud that we are taking joint responsibility and acting in the face of the climate crisis," says the Greenlandic Minister of Energy and Environment.

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On Tuesday, the Greenlandic parliament, Inatsisartut, decided Greenland would join the Paris Agreement on climate change.

This legally binding international treaty from 2015 establishes the aim to hold the increase in the global average temperature to well below 2°C and preferably to limit the temperature increase to 1.5°C.

Kalistat Lund, naalakkersuisoq for landbruk, selvforsyning, energi og miljø. (Foto: Naalakkersuisut)
Kalistat Lund, Naalakkersuisoq of Agriculture, Self-Sufficiency, Energy and Environment. (Photo: Naalakkersuisut)

"This is a joyful day. With this decision, the Inatsisartut is displaying action, determination, and care for our country and our planet," says Kalistat Lund (Inuit Ataqatigiit), naalakkersuisoq (minister) of energy and environment, i.a.

"I am proud that we are taking joint responsibility and acting in the face of the climate crisis. Greenland joining the Paris Agreement will secure development to the benefit of our country and our descendants," continues Lund.

The decision is also praised by Sara Olsvig, International Chair of the Inuit Circumpolar Council and former leader of the Greenlandic party Inuit Ataqatigiit.

"It is an important step for Greenland, Inuits, and Arctic climate governance," writes Olsvig on X (Twitter).

Long process

Greenland joining the Paris Agreement was first announced at the UN's climate summit in 2021 by the former Naalakkersuisut (government) and then put forward for processing in Inatsisartut.

A new study then showed that Greenland could join the agreement without committing to a specific reduction of CO2 and without having to participate in Denmark's burden-sharing.

The previous assessment was that joining the agreement could create obstacles to developing businesses and achieving independence from Denmark in the long term.

The parliament has now also concluded that the agreement can be combined with business development and economic growth. 

"The thorough preparatory work shows that the Paris Agreement does not threaten Greenland's development. On the contrary. The Self-Government Act shall form the basis for our accession to the agreement. We accede in recognition that we are an indigenous people with the right to self-government. We are responsible for our climate policy, and we accede to the Paris Agreement on these terms", says Lund.

In September, Greenland's Naalakkersuisoq of Foreign Affairs, Vivian Motzfeldt, also received responsibility for matters concerning independence. Her department will focus on the Self-Government Act, work on the draft for a Greenlandic constitution, and ensure progress in the work for forming an independent state.

Growth and the green shift

Subsequently, the Greenlandic government will design a national climate strategy. In this work, both citizens, businesses and civil society will be involved.

"The strategy will include climate objectives and set the direction for how Greenland will achieve economic growth with the green shift," writes Naalakkersuisut.

Based on the strategy, nationally determined contributions (NDC) will be decided with climate objectives for each sector. Some industries, such as raw materials and/or fisheries, may be exempted from such objectives.

Greenland's NDC is expected to be submitted to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change so that it will be effective from 2030.

In 2021, the then Naalakkersuisut decided to stop all oil exploration out of environmental and climate concerns and instead invest in the island's great potential for hydropower production. 

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