It’s official: Ireland is about to become the first country on Earth to entirely divest from fossil fuels. Irish Parliament is currently reviewing a law which passed 90 votes to 53, and which would put an immediate stop to all public funding of coal, oil, and gas from an €8 billion (U.S. $8.6 billion) Ireland Strategic Investment Fund.
According to Thomas Pringle, “This principle of ethical financing is a symbol to these global corporations that their continual manipulation of climate science, denial of the existence of climate change, and their controversial lobbying practices of politicians around the world is no longer tolerated. We cannot accept their actions while millions of poor people in underdeveloped nations bear the brunt of climate change forces as they experience famine, mass emigration, and civil unrest as a result.”
Assuming the bill is passed, the Ireland Strategic Investment Fund would immediately drop all investments in fossil fuel companies over the next five years. As a result of this, companies like Exxon would no longer receive public funds, and many other countries around the world would look toward Ireland as an example to admire and aspire to. It’s even possible that funds previously earmarked for fossil fuels could soon be rerouted to the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI), which would be quite fitting to say the least.
If it doesn’t go without saying, this news has been celebrated by environmental groups throughout Ireland and all around the world. As Éamonn Meehan (executive director of the Catholic poverty charity Trócaire) advised the Belfast Telegraph, “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.”
In 2015, Norway divested from coal by withdrawing €7.4 billion (U.S. $8 billion) from the country’s sovereign wealth fund; however, Norway still has not managed to completely divest from fossil fuel interests. Conversely, the Irish parliament is also considering taking similar actions pertaining to fracking, which is an environmentally devastating process of extracting natural gas from deep subterranean rock beds.
As mentioned, nothing is set in stone yet—or set in law yet—but the situation and circumstances definitely seem most promising. It has recently been discovered that the polar ice caps are melting at much higher rates than climatologists previously predicted, and it is quite possible that sea levels could rise by over ten feet within decades. With all of this in mind, it is vital that Ireland follows through on all that it intends to—and it is even more imperative that all other countries in the world follow suit as soon as humanly possible.
*This content was inspired by an amazing article that can be found here.