Ireland becomes first country in the world to divest from fossil fuels

| 13th July 2018
The Irish parliament has approved a bill forcing its sovereign fund to divest from fossil fuels.

The Irish parliament has approved a bill forcing its sovereign fund to divest from fossil fuels.

The Irish parliament passed a bill yesterday to force its sovereign fund to divest from fossil fuel companies - making the Irish government the first in the world to do so. ARTHUR WYNS reports

Countries the world over must now urgently follow Ireland's lead and divest from fossil fuels.

The Irish government is set to completely divest its Ireland Strategic Investment Fund (ISIF) from companies with shares in the fossil fuel industry, in a groundbreaking bill approved by Irish parliament on Thursday, 12 July 2018.

The move makes Ireland the first country in the world to divest from fossil fuels.

The Fossil Fuel Divestment Bill will require the £6.8bn (€8.9 bn) invested in the ISIF fund to moe away from fossil fuel undertakings within a period of five years, and prohibits any future investments in the industry.

Public call

The bill, introduced by Deputy Thomas Pringle in 2017, has now been passed into a law by the Irish parliament.

Gerry Liston, the legal officer with the Global Legal Action Network, who drafted the Bill, said: “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."

Éamonn Meehan, executive director of Trócaire, an Irish charity, said: “Today the Oireachtas [the National parliament of Ireland] 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.

Sovereign pension

“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.

 “We hope this important piece of legislation will move quickly through the Seanad [Ireland's upper house] and be enacted before year end.

"We must do all we can to prevent climate change from reversing the decades of progress made in reducing poverty worldwide.”

In 2015, Norway came close to being the first government in the world to divest from fossil fuels: it divested part of its $1tn sovereign pension fund from some fossil fuel companies, but not all.

The approval of the bill by Irish parliament can be rewatched here.

This Author

Arthur Wyns is the program manager of Climate Tracker, an organisation supporting environmental journalists worldwide to bring climate change into their national debates. He tweets from @ArthurWyns

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