Ireland Moves To Divest From Fossil Fuels In Historic World First

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Ireland is likely to become the world’s first country to fully divest from fossil fuel investments after a bill was approved by the Irish lower house this week, and now awaits approval by the country’s Senate.

The country’s Dáil Éireann (lower house) voted this week on the Fossil Fuel Divestment Bill (PDF) which was first introduced by independent politician Thomas Pringle, but which was then backed by the Irish Government which helped to secure its passage. The text of the bill calls for the complete divestment of the Ireland Strategic Investment Fund of fossil fuel companies within five years from the commencement of the bill’s approval. The aim, as expressed in the bill, is “to  precipitate a timely decarbonisation process in line with Ireland’s climate change commitments under Article 2 of the Paris Agreement.”

“I think it’s significant in shaping the whole argument around climate change,” said Mr Pringle. “The fact that the Government is accepting it should strengthen their position in demonstrating its commitment . . . Ireland must take on its fair share of the burden of climate action.”

“Not only is this a testament to cross-party co-operation and support on the issue of climate change in Ireland but a victory for the international fossil fuel divestment movement too.”

The Ireland Strategic Investment Fund, currently under the auspices of the National Treasury Management Agency (NTMA), is a €8.9 billion ($10.34 billion) sovereign development fund designed “to invest on a commercial basis in a manner designed to support economic activity and employment in Ireland.”

The bill will now move on to the Seanad Éireann, the upper house of Ireland’s legislature, the Oireachtas, which it is expected to pass through smoothly.

Such a divestment would not only be a massive loss for the European fossil fuel industry but would send a message to nations around the world, as it would be the first time an entire country has moved to divest itself of its fossil fuel investments.

Unsurprisingly, the move has been widely welcomed as a landmark decision. Veteran climate and divestment campaigner, and founder of, Bill McKibben took to Twitter to express his surprise and pleasure at the move.

McKibben also praised the work done by the overseas development agency of the Irish Catholic Church, Trócaire, which put in a lot of work campaigning for this bill. 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.”

“Ireland’s decision is a significant win for the global divestment campaign and it is an encouraging step in what needs to be a complete withdrawal of support of fossil fuels by the Irish government – no more funding, no more projects,” added Nicolò Wojewoda, Europe Team Leader. “This week, packed with divestment announcements from churches, universities and now the first full divestment by a national government, is sending a clear signal that breaking the ties with fossil fuel companies is becoming the new norm: investing in them is no longer economically viable nor morally right. 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.”

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Joshua S Hill

I'm a Christian, a nerd, a geek, and I believe that we're pretty quickly directing planet-Earth into hell in a handbasket! I also write for Fantasy Book Review (, and can be found writing articles for a variety of other sites. Check me out at for more.

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