Ireland votes for fossil fuel divestment

Ireland could become the first country to fully divest its public money from fossil fuels following a parliamentary vote.

On 26 January 2017, the Irish Parliament passed the historic legislation to fully divest public money from fossil fuels.

Lawmakers split 90 to 53 in favour of dropping coal, oil and gas investments from the €8 billion ($9 billion) Ireland Strategic Investment Fund, part of the Republic’s National Treasury Management Agency.

The bill, introduced by Deputy Thomas Pringle, is expected to pass into law in the next few months after it is reviewed by the financial committee.

Pringle said: “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.”

He went on to say: “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.”

Once enacted, the bill dictates that the Ireland Strategic Investment Fund must sell its investment in fossil fuel industries over the next five years.

Ireland’s full divestment legislation will make the country the most progressive in terms on cutting ties with fossil fuels, overtaking Norway.

Back in 2015, Norway’s sovereign pension fund divested from some, but not all, fossil fuel companies.

Sustainable investors have welcomed the move, stating that fossil fuels assets are likely to decline as the clean energy transition gathers pace.

Ian Halstead, Consultant at L&P Investment Services, said: “Climate change presents a number of risks for investors. Divesting from fossil fuels and investing in climate solutions is a sensible way for investors like the Strategic Investment Fund to manage these risks.”

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