Climate

Ireland first country to divest from fossil fuels

The Irish parliament has passed the Fossil Fuel Divestment Bill last July 12, making Ireland the world’s first country to divest from fossil fuels. The bill requires Ireland’s €8bn sovereign fund, the Irish Strategic Investment Fund, to drop all coal, oil, and gas investments within the next five years.

The bill was proposed by TD Thomas Pringle who said in a statement:

“The real effects of the Bill will be felt if other countries follow Ireland’s lead in sufficient numbers – this will help drive demand for low-fossil-fuel investments at a global level and potentially stimulate investment in renewable and sustainable alternatives.”

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TD Pringle as yesterday’s historic decision in the parliament

Eamonn Meehan, executive director of Trocaire, an Irish environmental lobby that has pushed for the bill said that the decision was “vital” and sends a “powerful signal” to the community. He also said that, “the passing of this Bill is good news but has to mark a significant change of pace on the issue,” addressing Ireland’s lack of climate action. The country was ranked second-worst country in Europe in terms if climate action and GHG mitigation, according to a survey done by the Climate Action Network.

Organisations such as 350.org, who are also in the forefront of the divestment campaign, also celebrated yesterday’s decision.

 

Nicolo Wojewoda, 350.org Europe Team Leader said in a statement:

“Ireland’s decision is a significant win for the global divestment campaign and it is an encouraging step in what needs to be a complete withdrawal of support of fossil fuels by the  Irish government – no more funding, no more projects. This week, packed with divestment announcements from churches, universities and now the first full divestment by a national government, is sending a clear signal that breaking the ties with fossil fuel companies is becoming the new norm: investing in them is no longer economically viable nor morally right. The only way to meaningfully address the climate crisis is to stop funnelling money into the fossil fuel industry and instead to support the momentous rise of renewable energy.”

The announcement comes a few days after the Pope’s strong call to action on climate from a two-day conference held in the Vatican and at the end of a week packed with divestment announcements, including a full divestment from one of Cambridge University’s colleges and a decision by the Church of England to divest from fossil fuels by 2023, if the companies it’s investing in will not take steps to comply with the Paris Agreement.

Local governments like New York City, faith-based organizations such as Caritas Internationalis,  and even large corporations, banks and insurance companies have all announced plans to divest from the fossil fuel industry. To date, nearly 900 institutions representing more than $6 trillion in assets have committed to some level of divestment.

In two months’ time, tens of thousands around the world will be joining one of the Rise for Climate mobilizations, where communities will be calling on elected officials and decision-makers at all levels to take meaningful and immediate climate action for a fossil free world.