The Republic of Ireland is on its way to becoming the world’s first country to fully divest from fossil fuels after its parliament passed a bill Thursday to stop spending public funds on nonrenewable energy.
Fidel and the Irish Struggle
The Fossil Fuel Divestment Bill 2016, was passed by 90 votes to 53 and enables the country to divest from coal, oil and gas holdings in its sovereign wealth fund, the Ireland Strategic Investment Fund, ISIF, which is worth over US$9 Billion.
After review from the finance committee, the bill is expected to be enacted into law in the coming months. It will also ban any future government investment in fossil fuels and the ISIF would be required to sell off its fossil fuel holdings over five years.
“National governments have an essential role to play in backing up their Paris pledges by ensuring public funds are well placed to support the clean energy transition, and protected from the inevitable decline of the fossil fuel industry,” said independent representative Thomas Pringle who introduced the bill.
While the minority ruling government Fine Gael and a number of independents voted against the measure, the vote was hailed as a historic step by activists behind the campaign.
“This is the first real sign of leadership from Ireland on climate action,” said Oisin Coghlan, Director of Friends of the Earth Ireland. “Over the last 20 years, our governments have more often been laggards than leaders. Playing catch up at best, more often being delinquent,” Coghlan continued.
“With a climate-skeptic recently inaugurated into the White House, this move by elected representatives in Ireland will send out a powerful message,” said Éamonn Meehan head of Irish charity Trócaire.
“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.”
Another bill to ban fracking, which was introduced last year is passing through the appropriate legal channels.