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Ireland: The first Fossil Fuel Divestment bill was approved by the parliament this January 2017

By Oana-Mihaela Milhalache on 6 mars 2017

The Fossil Fuel Divestment bill, introduced by the independent deputy Thomas Pringle and approved the parliament, represents a step forward in world history regarding the divestment cause. Ireland is taking the lead and is becoming the first country to divest its sovereign wealth fund from coal, oil, and gas. With this bill, Ireland will divest over 8.5 billion dollars from the Ireland Strategic Investment Fund. The legislation passed in a 90 to 53 majority vote and has to be reviewed by the financial committee before becoming a law.

In more details, the bill will amend the National Treasury Management Agency (Amendment) Act 2014 and will give the right of the Agency to divest the Ireland Strategic Investment Fund of its fossil fuel companies and to forbid future investments in that industry. In the same time, Ireland is trying to pass the first National Mitigation Plan in order to achieve a low carbon future and moreover is really committed to the Paris Agreement in order to support a fossil-free future.

Thomas Pringle had to illustrate its proposal with strong arguments in order to make the bill pass. First of all, he underlined the consequences of climate change such as the displaced population, global warming, and damage of small households and distress of small businesses. In order to achieve the -2°C of the Paris Agreement he called upon the government to act and implement policies in line with their objectives. He quoted the head of the UN Environment programme, Erik Solheim, who said that there is no better way to protect our planet but take immediate action because the economic growth is no longer the only thing that will keep the planet ongoing. The number of climate refugees who are hit by hunger, poverty, illness and conflict is growing daily and is a constant reminder of out failure to deliver.

Although Ireland is committed to fulfil the Paris Agreement’s objectives, the government finds it hard to compel the fossil companies to end their use of fossil reserves and to end their exploration in order to remain below a global temperature rise of 2°C. Furthermore, that explains the interest that Ireland is giving into the divestment movement ; Ireland is committed to divest on the companies that are causing nowadays problems and is willing to reflect more on energy justice.

Furthermore, Ireland is calling upon all its actors to be a part of the divestment movement. Since December 2016 the Trinity College of Dublin has joined the cause by divesting its endowment fund to all the investors in fossil companies. Also, 11 000 people across the country have signed a petition calling on the government to stop investing in fossil fuels. They are aligned with the Fossil Fuel Divestment Bill and were pledging for the parliament to adopt it. As soon as the bill project was introduced by Thomas Pringle in November, 25 groups and networks sent submission to the Minister of Finance, the Minister of Public Expenditure and Reform, the Minister of Communication and the Minister of Climate Action and Environment to make the moral case for divestment of the Ireland Investment Strategic Fund. In addition, more than 50 deputies and senators have joined the movement since November 2016 and signed a letter to the minister of Finance support their constituents’ and calls to divest the Ireland Investment Strategic Fund from fossil fuels because the problem with this fund is that the money invested comes from taxpayers money in activities that are explicitly working against the public interest.

Thus Ireland is committed on divestment, it remains one of the highest level of consumption emissions and resource per capita according to the 2012 study “Our Sustainable Future ; a framework for sustainable development for Ireland”.

However, it is important to underline that the bill will not dictate how the government will pursue the implementation of the Energy White paper and the forthcoming National Mitigation Plan, but it will show a real commitment of the politics and will urge for support of the fossil free society and economy for Ireland and for the climate justice.

To go further : "Briefing on Fossil Fuel Divestment Bill 2017" by Trócaire

© : www.thomaspringle.ie - go fossil free

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