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article imageIreland to become first country to divest from fossil fuels

By Karen Graham     Jul 13, 2018 in World
The Republic of Ireland took a crucial step Thursday toward becoming the first country in the world to divest from all fossil fuels, a landmark moment for the global divestment campaign.
Lawmakers in the Dail, the lower House of Parliament, advanced the[url=http://www t=_blank] Fossil Fuel Divestment Bill, which now goes before the upper chamber, known as Seanad, where it is expected to pass easily when it will likely be taken up in September.
The principal force behind the bill, independent lawmaker Thomas Pringle, praised the move Thursday as a "moment where we commit to getting serious."
"Let us show the Irish public and the international community that we are ready to think and act beyond narrow short-term and vested interests," he told his fellow lawmakers, "and will take the opportunities that lie ahead of us to bring in real change."
An aide to Pringle said the measure had the full support of Prime Minister Leo Varadkar and was expected to become law, according to the New York Times.
The global push for divestment from fossil fuels
For the past six years, there has been a growing international movement to get institutions, businesses and other entities to divest from fossil fuels. Nearly 900 institutions worldwide representing more than $6 trillion in assets have so far committed to some level of divestment, according to the activist group 350.org.
Interestingly, two methods of divesting to save the climate have emerged that are conflicting. One group believes that only total divestment from fossil fuels will work. The second group - made up of activist investors - believes they can successfully persuade companies to change policies by working from inside the companies as a shareholder.
Ireland's $10.4 billion Strategic Investment Fund had approximately $371 million invested in fossil fuel companies last year, according to Reuters. Divesting of fossil fuels will help Ireland to meet its Paris Climate Agreement commitments,
In November 2017, Norway’s trillion-dollar sovereign wealth fund proposed dropping its investments in oil and gas stocks, saying that doing so would make the country’s wealth “less vulnerable to a permanent drop in oil and gas prices”. The Norwegian central bank, which runs the Oslo-based fund, is recommending the fund be divested of more than $37 billion, or about 6.0 percent of the fund's benchmark equity index
Norway has not yet decided on whether to divest, because, after all, they are the largest oil producer in Europe. But the very suggestion that the world is losing confidence in the petroleum industry might change their mind.
And more recently, in May, Munich, Germany-based Allianz Group announced it would refuse insurance coverage of coal-fired power plants and coal mines effective immediately and would aim to get rid of all coal risks in its business by 2040.
And just a few days ago, six major wealth funds and the Church of England - with funds totaling more than $3 trillion - agreed to work out a strategy to better support the goals of the Paris climate agreement. Now, these groups are what could be called "activist investors."
But how an organization chooses to address the fossil fuel divestment movement is not nearly as important as the realization that the world is finally waking up to the reality of climate change and our role in helping to mitigate the impacts of global warming.
More about Ireland, Fossil fuels, divestment, Climate change, landmark moment