Quantcast

Ireland on Path to Become First Country to Divest from Fossil Fuels

A message to the Irish government to divest from fossil fuels is spelled out in lights in front of the lower house of parliament. Sasko Lazarov / 350.org

Ireland took a major step Thursday towards becoming the first country in the world to divest from fossil fuels, NPR reported.


The Dail, Ireland's lower house of parliament, passed a bill Thursday which would require the country to divest its $10 billion fund from oil, coal, natural gas and peat "as soon as practicable." The bill will now move to the country's upper house, the Seanad, where it is expected to pass easily, most likely in September.

"The [divestment] movement is highlighting the need to stop investing in the expansion of a global industry which must be brought into managed decline if catastrophic climate change is to be averted," Thomas Pringle, the independent member of parliament who introduced the bill, told The Guardian. "Ireland by divesting is sending a clear message that the Irish public and the international community are ready to think and act beyond narrow short term vested interests."

Ireland's fund currently holds more than €300 million in 150 fossil fuel companies. The bill defines a fossil fuel company as any company that makes 20 percent or more of its money from exploring, extracting or refining fossil fuels, but offers an exception for Irish companies that promise to move away from greenhouse-gas emitting fuels, The Guardian reported.

Ireland's decision is a major victory for the fossil fuel divestment movement, which has persuaded universities, pension funds, insurers, churches and cities like New York to divest trillions of dollars, but has never prompted an entire country to act before.

Norway came the closest when a 2015 parliamentary vote divested it from coal specifically. Its central bank has also recommended that it divest its sovereign wealth fund from oil. But no country has divested from all fossil fuels, according to NPR.

"Ireland's decision to divest from fossil fuels staggers me. It's one of the landmark moments in what has become the largest campaign of its kind in history. Such thanks to all who fought," divestment movement leader and 350.org founder Bill McKibben tweeted Thursday.

The bill's passage is also a major step for Ireland, which ranked last among EU countries in the 2018 Climate Change Performance Index.

"Ireland has gained a reputation internationally in recent years as a 'climate laggard' ... so the passing of this Bill is good news but has to mark a significant change of pace on the issue," Éamonn Meehan, the executive director of the Irish Catholic organization Trócaire that campaigned for the bill said in a statement reported by NPR.

Now, Ireland is moving into a position to lead other countries in fighting climate change.

"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." bill drafter Gerry Liston of Global Legal Action Network told The Guardian.

Show Comments ()

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

A metal fence marked with the U.S. Border Patrol sign prevents people to get close to the barbed/concertina wire covering the U.S./Mexico border fence, in Nogales, Arizona, on Feb. 9. ARIANA DREHSLER / AFP / Getty Images

President Donald Trump issued the first veto of his presidency Friday, overturning Congress' vote to block his national emergency declaration to fund a border wall that environmental advocates say would put 93 endangered species at risk. However, the president's decision came the same day as an in-depth report from UPI revealing how razor wire placed at the border in the last four months already threatens wildlife.

Read More Show Less
Guillermo Murcia / Moment / Getty Images

By Ansley Hill

Vitamin D is an essential nutrient that your body needs for many vital processes, including building and maintaining strong bones.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
D'Bone Collector Museum head Darrell Blatchley shows plastic found inside the stomach of a Cuvier's beaked whale in the Philippines this weekend. - / AFP / Getty Images

Yet another whale has died after ingesting plastic bags. A young male Cuvier's beaked whale was found washed up in Mabini, Compostela Valley in the Philippines Friday, CNN reported. When scientists from the D' Bone Collector Museum in Davao investigated the dead whale, they found it had died of "dehydration and starvation" after swallowing plastic bags―40 kilograms (approximately 88 pounds) worth of them!

Read More Show Less
Pexels

By Jeff Turrentine

"Be careful what you wish for; you just might get it." This is something that everybody has to learn at some point. Lately, the lesson has hit home for a group of American automakers.

Read More Show Less
Art direction: Georgie Johnson. Illustrations: Freya Morgan

By Joe Sandler Clarke

"Don't expect us to continue buying European products," Malaysia's former plantations minister Mah Siew Keong told reporters in January last year. His comments came just after he had accused the EU of "practising a form of crop apartheid."

A few months later Luhut Pandjaitan, an Indonesian government minister close to President Joko 'Jokowi' Widodo, warned his country would retaliate if it was "cornered" by the EU.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
Torres and his parents walk along the Rio Grande. Luis Torres / Earthjustice

By Luis Torres

For some people who live along the U.S.-Mexico border, President Trump's attempt to declare a national emergency and extend the border wall is worse than a wasteful, unconstitutional stunt. It's an attack on their way of life that threatens to desecrate their loved ones' graves.

Read More Show Less
Flooding at the Platte River south of Fremont, Nebraska. Gov. Pete Ricketts

Flooding caused by last week's bomb cyclone storm has broken records in 17 places across the state of Nebraska, CNN reported Sunday. Around nine million people in 14 states along the Mississippi and Missouri Rivers were under a flood watch, CNN meteorologist Karen Maginnis said.

Read More Show Less
A car destroyed by Cyclone Idai in Beira, Mozambique. ADRIEN BARBIER / AFP / Getty Images

At least 150 people have died in a cyclone that devastated parts of Mozambique, Zimbabwe and Malawi over the weekend, The Associated Press reported Sunday. Cyclone Idai has affected more than 1.5 million people since it hit Mozambique's port city of Beira late Thursday, then traveled west to Zimbabwe and Malawi. Hundreds are still missing and tens of thousands are without access to roads or telephones.

"I think this is the biggest natural disaster Mozambique has ever faced. Everything is destroyed. Our priority now is to save human lives," Mozambique's Environment Minister Celso Correia said, as AFP reported.

Read More Show Less