Greenland – posed to be a major player in the Arctic, with an estimated 8.9 billion barrels of oil in the East Greenland Rift – gained greater autonomy from Denmark on Sunday. Greenlanders are now legally a separate people from Danes, and Kalaallisut has become the official language. The New York Times covered the story on its front page, at least momentarily. Meanwhile, my colleague, Damien Degeorges, spoke about expanded home rule on Sveriges Radio, the main Swedish radio station. Damien is an expert on Greenland who graduated from the Sorbonne. He is currently writing his PhD dissertation on the role of the world’s largest island in the Arctic. He’s also currently a research assistant at the Stefansson Arctic Institute in Akureyri, Iceland. In the interview, he states that people will become more interested in Greenland in the future due to the issues of “climate change, energy, and the geopolitical situation in the Arctic.” He points out that Greenland happens to lie at the center of the Arctic, between Europe and North America.
Sweden’s interest in the Arctic is related to its investments in Greenland and the country’s progressive environmental attitudes, which have given the country an important role in combatting climate change. Plus, Sweden will hold the Presidency of the Council of the European Union beginning July 1, and it hopes to shine a brighter light on the environment and the Arctic, even if it does not possess any territory in the region.