Ireland is on track to become the first country to divest its sovereign wealth fund from fossil fuels. In a vote on 12th July, the lower house of the Irish parliament passed a bill that requires the €8.9 billion Ireland Strategic Investment Fund to sell any investments in coal, oil and peat as “as soon as is practicable”.
The bill was first introduced in November 2016 by Thomas Pringle, an independent member of the Irish parliament. Mr Pringle told the New York Times that "the bill had the support of Prime Minister Leo Varadkar and was expected to become law." The bill must now pass a vote in the upper house. If it passes there it could become law before the end of the year.
According to the Guardian, the Irish state investment fund holds more than €300m in fossil fuel investments in 150 companies. The result is seen as a victory for the global divestment movement, which has seen rapid growth of divestment commitments. Norway's $1 trillion wealth fund recently excluded one of Warren Buffet's energy firms from its portfolio and put two others under observation over their use of coal (Financial Times). Meanwhile, the Church of England has announced it will divest fossil fuel companies that are dormant on climate action from 2023 (Financial Times).
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