In a story that at time of writing had not been much picked up by Irish media; Ireland on the Thursday 26th of January 2017 became the first country to fully divest its public funds from fossil fuels.

Irish elected representatives (TDs) voted 90 to 53 in favour of withholding the Ireland Strategic Investment Fund of €8 billion (US $9 billion) from fossil fuels such as oil, gas and coal.

During the Dáil (parliament) debate on the bill references were made to showing that Ireland was not complicit in newly elected US president Donald Trump’s type of politics and that it was time for Ireland to show leadership in the wake of the Paris Climate Agreement.

The bill was brought forward by Donegal indepedent TD Thomas Pringle and should become law in the next few months after it passes through the finance committee.

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“It is timely that we are discussing the Fossil Fuel Divestment Bill 2016 a day before the most famous climate change denier is sworn in as President of the United States, bringing with him former Exxon Mobil chief executive officer, Rex Tillerson, as Secretary of State. We should not associate ourselves with Trump-era politics. His Administration and its public display of affection for big oil is representative of the industry’s fading legacy and its last attempt to hold onto power. For over a century, it has enjoyed the privilege of buying political influence and deliberately concealing and manipulating the science of climate change in their favour. These corporations have been allowed to skirt around democratic institutions while the most disadvantaged are left to bear the brunt of climate change effects. As a developed nation, we have also stood idly by, allowing big energy corporations to run the show, most recently with their push to open up Irish markets to fracking. Ireland continues to lag behind in its commitments to mitigating climate change effects. Ireland is currently the eighth highest producer of emissions per person in the OECD and only one of two countries in the EU that will not reach its 2020 targets for emissions reductions. Our non-compliance will cost, with estimates of up to €6 billion for breaching emission levels. Today offers an opportunity for us not only to catch up with the pace of climate change, but also lead on mitigating its effects.”

Pringle’s Opening Statement on the debate on the Fossil Fuel Divestment Bill

Tróchaire and Irish development NGO has been a leader voice in the Irish divestment campaign and highlighted how climate change disproportionately effects the world’s poorest communities.

 

Further reading

Fossil Fuel Divestment Bill Text

Irish Times: Two more Dáil defeats brings Government losses to six

Tróchaire: Briefing on Fossil Fuel Divestment Bill 2017

Top image credit © Copyright Barry