Last week, the Dail voted in favour of a Bill to make Ireland the first country in the world to fully divest from fossil fuels. It will mean that the Government will have to ensure that Ireland’s €8 billion sovereign investment fund will switch out of its oil, coal and gas assets. The Bill will also prohibit the Ireland Strategic Investment Fund – which currently has over €300 million both directly and indirectly in fossil fuel companies – from any future investment in the industry. The Bill is expected to pass through the Seanad and be signed into law later this year
The vote was welcomed by the Stop Climate Chaos Coalition which includes organisations such as Trócaire and Friends of the Earth. Many groups now hope that Government will also support the proposal to prohibit any new licenses for oil and gas exploration in Irish waters and a ban on the importation of fracked gas (LNG) from the US. The ‘divestment’ news was warmly welcomed by some of the world’s leading climate and environmental activists, such as 350.org’s Bill McKibben. The organisation is based in the US.
New Oireachtas Committee on climate action
Separately, a Special Joint Committee to examine the State’s action to tackle climate change held its first meeting last week. The Committee was established to consider the recommendations of the Citizens’ Assembly on How the State can make Ireland a Leader in tackling Climate Change. Fine Gael’s Hildegarde Naughton TD has been appointed the chair of the committee. Speaking after the announcement Deputy Naughton said that every sector must be encouraged to transfer to a low carbon economy, including agriculture, transport, industry and construction. The Committee will report its conclusions and recommendations by January 2019.