09 Feb
  • By Rob

Divesting in fossil fuels – Ireland lead the way

Ireland’s parliament has become the first in the world to vote to divest from fossil fuels, paving the way for a historic ban on government investment in non-renewable energy.

The landmark bill seeks to drop coal, oil and gas investments from Ireland’s Strategic Investment Fund (ISIF). The Irish Parliament passed the historic legislation in a 90 to 53 vote in favour of dropping coal, oil and gas investments from the €8bn (£6.8bn) Ireland Strategic Investment Fund, which is part of the Republic’s National Treasury Management Agency. The bill is likely to pass into law within the next few months after it is reviewed by the financial committee.

This all means that renewable energy will get proper state help and funding for the very first time.

There are a few countries who have committed to phasing out the use of coal, but none have yet taken the necessary steps of divesting public funds from fossil fuels entirely such as now seen in Ireland. Among others, Norway has made some impressive moves in that direction, but it now appears that Ireland may beat them to a complete phase out of public money going to fossil fuel investments. In 2015, Norway’s sovereign pension fund divested from some fossil fuel companies, but crucially not all of them.

Independent TD Thomas Pringle, who introduced the bill, said the bill would send a significant message to climate change deniers and lobbyists.

“This principle of ethical financing is a symbol to these global corporations that their continual manipulation of climate science, denial of the existence of climate change and their controversial lobbying practices of politicians around the world is no longer tolerated,” Deputy Thomas Pringle said.

“We cannot accept their actions while millions of poor people in underdeveloped nations bear the brunt of climate change forces as they experience famine, mass emigration and civil unrest as a result.”

This is not by any means the final piece of the jigsaw but just the start of things to come in the fight against climate change.

This movement and bill by the Irish government goes some way to sending the positive signal that Ireland has officially left the starting blocks on a transition to a carbon-free economy and a brighter and greener future.