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Ireland leads the way in landmark Divestment Bill

12 July 2018

Trócaire has welcomed the Dail’s passage of the Fossil Fuel Divestment Bill through report stage.

Fossil Fuel Divestment Bill

Celebrations outside Leinster House as the Dáil says Yes to Divest from Fossil Fuels on Thursday July 12th 2018. (Photo: Mark Stedman)

Ireland has made history today

The passing of the Fossil Fuel Divestment Bill this afternoon has made history. Ireland is the first country in the world to commit to withdrawing public money invested in fossil fuels, the industry which is contributing most to climate change.

Éamonn Meehan, Executive Director of Trócaire said: “Today the Oireachtas 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.

“This is vital. Climate change is one of the leading drivers of poverty and hunger in the developing world and we see its devastating impact every day in the communities in which we work. Extended droughts, floods and storms have already contributed to the deaths of hundreds of thousands of people, with millions more facing hunger and in need of urgent aid just to survive.

Dozens of mothers wait with their babies and youngsters at a healthcare centre supported by Trócaire in Kalokol, Kenya. This centre is being used as an emergency clinic for young children suffering the effects of malnutrition due to the drought in Kenya. Photo: David O'Hare.

“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.”

The Fossil Fuel Divestment Bill

The Fossil Fuel Divestment Bill is the culmination of more than two years’ work by Thomas Pringle TD, Trócaire, other civil society, activist and student groups, and the Global Legal Action Network (GLAN).

It will compel the Ireland Strategic Investment Fund (ISIF) to sell off its investments in the global fossil fuel industry, which as of June 2017, stood at €318 million, across 150 companies worldwide.

“This means the Bill is both substantive and symbolic,” added Éamonn. “It will stop public money being invested against the public interest, and it sends a clear signal nationally and globally that action on the climate crisis needs to be accelerated urgently, starting with the phase out of fossil fuels.”

Gerry Liston, the Legal Officer with the Global Legal Action Network, who drafted the Bill, explains its urgency. “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."

Nicolò Wojewoda, 350.org Europe Team Leader, commented: “Ireland’s decision is a significant win for the global divestment campaign. The only way to meaningfully address the climate crisis is to stop funnelling money into the fossil fuel industry and instead to support the momentous rise of renewable energy.”

Éamonn concluded: “Thank you to all the opposition parties including Fianna Fáil, the Green Party, Labour, Sinn Fein, the Social Democrats, Solidarity - People Before Profit and a range of Independents for their longstanding support for the Fossil Fuel Divestment Bill, and to the Government for its recent engagement to ensure the Bill could pass the final stage in the Dáil with cross-party support.

“We are especially grateful to Independent Deputy Thomas Pringle for bringing this landmark legislation forward and to the Global Legal Action Network who provided significant legal support throughout the process.

“We hope this important piece of legislation will move quickly through the Seanad 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.”