In Brief
  • Ireland's Parliament has passed a bill that stops the country from investing in fossil fuels as part of an €8 billion government fund.
  • Ireland’s divestment is the most aggressive move taken against fossil fuels to date, but they are certainly not alone in their efforts to move towards clean energy.

Historic Legislation

Ireland has made history by passing a bill that will stop all investments in coal and oil. The legislation gathered the majority vote (90 to 53) in favor of fully divesting fossil fuel investments from the eight billion pound Ireland Strategic Investment Fund.

As Trócaire Executive Director Eamonn Meehan shared in a statement:

 […] this move by elected representatives in Ireland will send out a powerful message. The Irish political system is now finally acknowledging what the overwhelming majority of people already know: That to have a fighting chance to combat catastrophic climate change we must phase out fossil fuels and stop the growth of the industry that is driving this crisis.

Moneypoint power station is Ireland’s largest electricity generation station, powered mostly by coal. Image Credit: Charles W Glynn/Wikimedia Commons

The bill, introduced by Deputy Thomas Pringle, will now be reviewed by a financial committee before it is passed into law in the next few months. Once it passes, Ireland will become the first nation to completely remove funding for fossil fuel sources.

Environmental Impact

Given its size, Ireland’s move won’t necessarily have a major effect on the environment; but the decision stands as a benchmark for countries who want to strengthen their stance against climate change and show support for renewable energy.

Ireland’s divestment is the most aggressive move taken against fossil fuels to date, but the government is certainly not alone in its efforts to move towards clean energy. By December of 2016, The Divest Invest Initiative had already gathered almost $5.2 trillion in fossil fuel divestment pledges from 76 countries. Norway has also set a national target to be carbon neutral by 2030; while China announced its plan to shut down 104 coal-fired projects across 13 provinces as part of their anti-coal stance.

Collectively, these initiatives could make a real difference in our effort to address climate change.