Ireland is on track to become the first country to entirely stop funding fossil fuels, after parliament passed a bill to stop public funding of fuels such as oil, gas, and coal by the €8 billion Ireland Strategic Investment Fund. The bill is called the Fossil Fuel Divestment Bill.
According to Deputy Thomas Pringle, who introduced the bill to parliament:
“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 signed into law after a review, the bill would have the Investment Fund divest from all fossil fuels over a period of five years, stopping public money from going to companies like Exxon, and preventing any further investments in the future. While there is no information yet about where the money could go instead, the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI) is one possibility.
Environmental advocates across Ireland have praised the move.
Éamonn Meehan, who is the executive director of the Catholic charity Trócaire, said:
“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.”
“With a climate-sceptic recently inaugurated into the White House, this move by elected representatives in Ireland will send out a powerful message,” he continued.
The bill goes through, it will represent the first time an entire country has completely divested from fossil fuels. However, a number of countries are already moving towards an end goal of doing so. In 2015, Norway moved to stop funding coal, pulling €7.4 billion of investment from the country’s sovereign wealth fund. However, Norway has not yet fully divested from fossil fuel interests.
In addition to this funding decision, the Irish parliament plans to rethink their stance on fracking, a controversial method of removing natural gas from underground rock beds.
The vote to divest from fossil fuels passed in 90 to 53 vote. It was supported by nearly all of the major political parties in Ireland, with the exception of Fine Gael.