Ireland’s lower house of parliament has passed a bill across party lines that will require the country to divest all of its shares in fossil fuel companies. All investments in coal, oil, gas and peat, part of the country’s €8 billion euros (approximately US$9.3 billion dollars) will have to be sold off “as soon as is practicable,” which is expected to take place over a five-year period.
“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,” said Thomas Pringle, the independent member of parliament who presented the bill.
“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.”
Meanwhile, Éamonn Meehan, executive director of international development charity Trócaire, said, “Today the Oireachtas [Irish parliament] has sent a powerful signal to the international community about the need to speed up the phase-out of fossil fuels.”
He pointed out that “just last month Ireland was ranked the second worst European country for climate action, so the passing of this bill is good news. But it has to mark a significant change of pace on the issue.”
The bill, according to The Guardian, defines a fossil fuel company as a company that obtains 20 per cent or more of its revenue from exploring, extracting or refining fossil fuels.
It also permits investments in Irish fossil fuel companies if the funds are used to move the company away from the use of fossil fuels.
“Governments will not meet their obligations under the Paris agreement on climate change if they continue to financially sustain the fossil fuel industry,” said Gerry Liston at Global Legal Action Network and the drafter of the bill.
Countries the world over must now urgently follow Ireland’s lead and divest from fossil fuels.