You are here

Ireland becomes first country to commit to divesting all fossil fuel investments

Social Justice Ireland enthusiastically welcomes the news that Ireland will become the first country in the world to divest its sovereign wealth fund – the Ireland Strategic Investment Fund – of all investments in fossil fuels. Congratulations are due to the Government who backed the bill, following Cabinet-approval earlier this week.

A landmark vote in the Dáil yesterday has paved the way for the Fossil Fuel Divestment bill to progress to the Seanad, where it is expected to pass, meaning it could become law before the end of 2018. The bill will help align Ireland’s policy activities with our climate change commitments agreed at the Paris Conference in 2015.

The NTMA will now be required to sell off all Irish sovereign investments in oil, coal, peat and natural gas “as soon as is practicable”; essentially within the next five years. These investments were valued at €318 million last month

Social Justice Ireland is proud to have been part of the coalition campaigning for this move, but particular congratulations are due to Trócaire for their hard work and campaigning on the issue.

Particular congratulations are due to Trocaire for the success of this bill

Yesterday, Trócaire Executive Director Eamonn Meehan commented that the Oireachtas “has sent a powerful signal to the international community about the need to speed up the phase-out of fossil fuels. Just last month Ireland was ranked the second worst European country for climate action, so the passing of this bill is good news. But it has to mark a significant change of pace on the issue”.

It is estimated that governments around the world subsidise the production of fossil fuels to the tune of at least $5 trillion (yes that’s trillion, not billion!) every year when account is taken of things like undercharging for environmental costs, failure to fully apply consumption taxes, and other more direct subsidies that lower the cost of fossil fuels to consumers, and assist companies in exploration and extraction.

There is hardly a greater case of public money being invested against the public interest.

However, the fossil fuel divestment movement is growing rapidly, with trillions of dollars in investment funds – including pension funds, university endowment funds and church-owned trust funds – being divested of fossil fuel-related investments.

Donegal TD Thomas Pringle, who sponsored the Fossil Fuel Divestment Bill in the Dáil

The importance of such moves should not be underestimated. Known fossil fuel deposits are already far greater than can be “burned” without causing catastrophic climate change. Exploring for, and extracting, more oil, coal and gas is not just morally wrong but economically foolish. It is estimated that about 80 per cent of known fossil fuel deposits will need to remain “in the ground” if the world is to meet the climate targets agreed at the Paris Conference.

Particular congratulations are also due to Thomas Pringle TD, who sponsored the Fossil Fuel Divestment bill.