Ireland makes history as the first country to divest from fossil fuels

Ireland is to be the first country in the world to withdraw public money being invested in fossil fuels.

The passing of the Fossil Fuel Divestment Bill this afternoon means that the Ireland Strategic Investment Fund (ISIF) will sell off its investments in the global fossil fuel industry.

As of June 2017, that stood at €318m across 150 companies worldwide.

Trócaire welcomed the Dail’s passage of the Bill through report stage after the charity, along with Thomas Pringle TD, the Global Legal Action Network (GLAN) and other civil society, activist and student groups campaigned for its implementation.

Éamonn Meehan, Executive Director of Trócaire said: “Today the Oireachtas has made a powerful statement. It has responded to the public’s call for leadership on this issue and sent a powerful signal to the international community about the need to speed up the phase-out of fossil fuels if global climate goals are to be delivered.

“This is vital. Climate change is one of the leading drivers of poverty and hunger in the developing world and we see its devastating impact every day in the communities in which we work.

“Ireland has gained a reputation internationally in recent years as a ‘climate laggard’ and just last month Ireland was ranked the second worst European country for Climate Action, so the passing of this Bill is good news but has to mark a significant change of pace on the issue.”

“Thank you to all the opposition parties including Fianna Fáil, the Green Party, Labour, Sinn Fein, the Social Democrats, Solidarity - People Before Profit and a range of Independents for their longstanding support for the Fossil Fuel Divestment Bill, and to the Government for its recent engagement to ensure the Bill could pass the final stage in the Dáil with cross-party support.

“We are especially grateful to Independent Deputy Thomas Pringle for bringing this landmark legislation forward and to the Global Legal Action Network who provided significant legal support throughout the process," he said.

Minister of State at the Department of Finance, Michael D’Arcy welcomed the passage of the Bill saing: “Passing this Bill is a real achievement and I commend Deputy Pringle for his initiative in sponsoring the Bill.

"I’d like to thank him for his considered and collaborative approach, and for his willingness to work with the Government to develop challenging yet workable proposals to ensure that the Ireland Strategic Investment Fund avoids investment exposure to fossil fuels, and divests from excessive exposure to them.”

Gerry Liston, the Legal Officer with the Global Legal Action Network, who drafted the Bill, explained its urgency.

“Governments will not meet their obligations under the Paris Agreement on Climate Change if they continue to financially sustain the fossil fuel industry. Countries the world over must now urgently follow Ireland's lead and divest from fossil fuels,” he said.

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