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Ireland Is About To Become The First Country In The World To Divest From Fossil Fuels

Ireland will become the first country in the world to divest from fossil fuels, including peat (pictured). John and Penny/Shutterstock

Ireland will become the first country in the world to divest from fossil fuels, including peat (pictured). John and Penny/Shutterstock

A bill has been passed by the Republic of Ireland, making the country as the first in the world who would divest from any investments held in fossil fuel companies.

The bill has won the cross-party support recently and would be  expected to be submitted to the upper house of parliament of the country.

As Thomas Pringle, an independent member of parliament who introduced the bill, said, such movement was mainly focused on the need to stop investing in the expansion of a global industry which must be brought into managed decline if catastrophic climate change had to be avoided.

This action taken by Ireland to divest from fossil fuels has clearly signaled that the Irish public and the international community are intended to think and act beyond narrow short-term vested interests.

If it is done, that means that the Ireland Strategic Investment Fund (ISIF), currently worth €8.9 billion ($10.4 billion), Reuters reports, have to abandon investments in oil, gas, coal, and peat. Or, as it was explained in the bill with an amendment that those companies “whose business is engaged, for the time being, in the exploration for or extraction or refinement of a fossil fuel where such activity accounts for 20 percent or more of the turnover of that undertaking.”

It is estimated that at present over €300 million ($371 million) of the investment fund is involved in fossil fuels. According to the bill, it will be required to divest “as soon as is practicable”, which is vague in some suspicious way, but they are expected to do so in the next five years.

Although several institutions such as the Church of England, New York City, the American Museum of Natural History, and the University of Edinburgh, have made pledge to divest from fossil fuels, whole countries have been slower in making strides in this field.

Up until now, Norway has been the leader, who has banned its sovereign wealth fund with an estimated worth of $1 trillion, the largest in the world, from investing in businesses that collect over 30 percent of their profit from coal. Norway is now intended to do the same to those engaged in oil and gas. However, Ireland is the first country to instate an all-out ban on fossil fuels.

The decision might be inspired partly because of a report published not long ago, and it ranked Ireland as the second-worst European country for climate action, just above Poland and slipping down 10 places from the year before. According to this report , Ireland would face annual non-compliance costs of around €500 million, if no new, immediate and substantive efforts had to be made for cutting emissions.

By reminding his fellow lawmakers, Pringle said that even if Iceland was the leader at state level… but it was lagging gravely behind on its EU and international climate commitments.

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