While the United States has put a climate change denier in charge of the country, elsewhere across the ocean leaders are acting responsibly. With a majority vote, a bill that will enable Ireland to divest all of its sovereign wealth fund away from oil, gas, and coal, was passed in the Irish parliament. The fund is worth more than 8 billion euros.
All that now stands before the bill’s final approval is the committee stage, which according to Trócaire and Fossil Free Europe should pose no problem since almost all major political parties support it, except the Fine Gael political party.
“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, said Éamonn Meehan, the Trócaire Executive Director, an Irish charity striving to overcome the challenges of poverty and injustice.
Once the bill passes, Ireland will officially become the first country to divest from fossil fuels. Norway also divested its sovereign wealth fund away from coal, which is worth $900 million, but the country still has financial assets tied to oil.
Such remarkable leadership will likely inspire other countries to follow suit just as how the divestment movement, which first appeared in 2011 with modest supporters, has now grown into a genuine phenomenon. Many big companies, NGOs, cults, and municipalities have divested away from stocks and bonds tied to fossil fuels. As of December, 2015, a staggering $3.4 trillion has been divested away from fossil.
“The support of a majority in the Dáil for this bill is an incredibly important moment for the climate justice movement in Ireland and will inspire other countries to follow our lead,” Meehan said.