The Nuclear Free Local Authorities (NFLA) welcomes the decision of the Irish Parliament to pass a Bill that could see the Republic of Ireland becoming the first country in the world to divest public money from fossil fuels.
The Dail passed the Fossil Fuel Divestment Bill 2016 by 90 votes to 53. The Bill called for dropping coal, oil and gas investments from the €8bn (£6.8bn) Ireland Strategic Investment Fund. The Fund is a core part of the Irish Government’s National Treasury Management Agency. The bill will now be reviewed by the Dail’s Finance Committee. It could become law in a matter of months. (1)
The Bill was supported by all Irish political parties except the governing Fine Gael. It is part of the ‘Divest-Invest’ international divestment campaign. This has been successful in persuading over 688 organisations in 76 countries, including pension management funds, private investment funds, banks and cities like Berlin, Washington DC and Oslo to move $5 trillion away from fossil fuels to low carbon clean alternatives. This figure is now higher than the global value of all listed oil and gas companies. (2)
The decision by the Irish Parliament could be the first by a government sovereign wealth fund, moving further than the Norwegian fund, which has divested its funds out of coal companies.
The success of the divestment campaign and the issues that arise out of climate change has been warned about by financial experts for some time. The Bank of England Governor Mark Carney spoke in 2015 that there was a danger the assets of fossil fuel companies could be left ‘stranded’ by tougher rules to curb climate change and that many UK investors were highly exposed to such matters. (3)
NFLA hopes the Fossil Fuel Divestment Bill becomes law shortly. It calls on the Irish Government to respect the Dail vote. NFLA has already called late in 2016 for a more rapid and ambitious strategy from the Republic of Ireland Government and the Northern Ireland Government to expand renewable energy generation and to catch up with other EU states. (4)
Since that vote, the renewable heating finance scandal in Northern Ireland has brought down the Government and elections have been called. NFLA call on all political parties in Northern Ireland to work together on resolving this issue after the elections and for the new government to move forward in cooperation with the Republic of Ireland Government to deliver policies that reduce fossil fuel dependency on the island.
NFLA All Ireland Forum Co Chair Councillor Mark Dearey said:
I was delighted that TDs decided to pass the Fossil Fuel Divestment Bill and move Ireland from its 90% dependence on imported fossil fuels and finally to look to embrace renewables. I hope it will come into law shortly and that the available resources can finally deliver the renewable energy revolution to underpin a carbon-free economy. With our amazing energy resources and the rapid advances in technology that can deliver clean cheap energy, Ireland could join the likes of Germany, Denmark and Portugal and truly lead the movement in mitigating climate change and creating a dynamic and jobs-rich economy.”
For more information please contact Sean Morris, NFLA Secretary, on 00 44 (0)161 234 3244.
Notes for editors:
(1) Climate Change News, 26th January 2017
(2) Climate Change News, 12th December 2016
(3) Financial Times, 29th September 2016
(4) NFLA Policy Briefing 151 on Irish energy policy, 2nd November 2016