The Irish government has passed a historic bill which will see Ireland dropping coal, gas and oil investments from the Ireland Strategic Investment Fund (ISIF) and is expected to come into effect in the next couple of months after it is reviewed by the financial committee.
This legislation will make Ireland the first country in the world to fully divest from fossil fuels. The bill was passed in Dáil Eireann by the Irish Government after a 90 to 53 vote in favor of dropping investments on fossil fuels from the €8bn ($8.6bn) ISIF.
The bill was introduced by the independent politician, Deputy Thomas Pringle. In a statement Pringle said, "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.
"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."
If this legislation becomes law, then the ISIF will be required to see off its investments in fossil fuel industries over the next five years. The ISIF is an €8bn ($8.6bn) sovereign development fund which focuses on investing on a commercial basis with the focus on supporting economic activity and employment in Ireland and is part of Ireland’s National Treasury Management Agency.
The reaction to this news has been hugely positive. Irish charity, Trócaire, has been campaigning over the last year for these measures to be taken by the Irish Government. In a statement the organization's Executive Director Éamonn Meehan said, “If the Fossil Fuel Divestment Bill is passed, Ireland would be the first country to ban investment of public money into the fossil fuel industry.
“With a climate-sceptic recently inaugurated into the White House, this move by elected representatives in Ireland will send out a powerful message. The Irish political system is now finally acknowledging what the overwhelming majority of people already know: That to have a fighting chance to combat catastrophic climate change we must phase out fossil fuels and stop the growth of the industry that is driving this crisis.
“I have seen it on the ground, from Malawi to Honduras, climate change is decimating the world’s poorest communities. The support of a majority in the Dáil for this Bill is an incredibly important moment for the climate justice movement in Ireland and will inspire other countries to follow our lead.”
This news comes on the back of President Donald Trump recently signing executive orders to allow the construction of the Dakota Access and Keystone XL pipelines which has caused mass protests and outrage across the United States as many feel it will be a step back in the environmental efforts made during the Obama administration.
Ireland have followed in the footsteps of Norway who passed similar legislation in 2015, where the country’s sovereign pension fund divested from some fossil fuel companies.
Do you think this is the beginning of a real step forward for countries combating climate change? Let us know in the comments below.