An entrepreneur from Greenland has been forced to try to defend his glacial ice export business, following criticism he is contributing to climate change by shipping ice to places like Dubai.
Launched in 2022, Arctic Ice sells ice formed in Greenland’s fjords as a luxury product that is purer than the ice made from frozen mineral water often used in the hotel and service industry.
Cleanest on Earth
The ice is harvested from “the natural glaciers in the Arctic which have been in a frozen state for more than 100,000 years. These parts of the ice sheets have not been in contact with any soils or contaminated by pollutants produced by human activities. This makes Arctic Ice the cleanest H20 on Earth,” the business website boasts.
The product is known as “black ice” but it is completely transparent and bubble free and melts more slowly than normal ice cubes. But the idea that chunks of broken icebergs from the Nuup Kangerlua, the fjord surrounding Greenland’s capital, Nuuk, are being extracted by crane and shipped to Dubai to cool a cocktail consumed on a rooftop bar, is too much for some.
Internet commentators have erupted with outrage and glaciologist Heidi Sevestre, speaking to FranceInfo, said: “The Arctic is warming precisely because of burning fossil fuels, sometimes for the purpose of sending merchandise to the other side of the planet.”
In this context, sending ice thousands of kilometres around the world in refrigerated ships, especially for something as frivolous as improving a cocktail, does seem questionable.
But the man behind the start-up, Malik V Rasmussen, says at least the first stage of transportation has a low carbon impact, due to the fact that Greenland imports more goods than it currently exports, meaning many shipping containers leave the country empty, which is wasteful.
In addition, the company’s eventual strategy is to offset all excess emissions through carbon capture and storage, and new methods of drawing CO2 out of the atmosphere.
Rasmussen argues he is simply looking for new business pathways in a country whose economy is heavily subsidised by Denmark and where fishing and tourism dominate. “Helping Greenland in its green transition is actually what I believe I was brought into this world to do,” he said, adding, “We do have that agenda running through the company, but we may not have communicated it well enough yet.”