Ireland is set to become the first country in the world to divest from fossil fuels, after a bill was passed that requires its sovereign wealth fund to sell off its holdings in fossil fuel companies “as soon as is practicable”. The bill, passed on Wednesday by the Dáil, Ireland’s lower house of parliament, is part of a growing movement as investors steer away from fossil fuels. It follows recent moves by the Norwegian sovereign wealth fund to reduce its exposure to coal. Ireland has lagged behind other European countries in cutting emissions and Irish households emit 60 percent more carbon than the average EU home, in part because of the use of peat and coal for heating, according to a government study.
“We have had a very carbon-based economy and society for a number of years, so this is a huge change for us, but it has to happen,” said Thomas Pringle, the independent parliamentarian who sponsored the legislation. “The bill sends a very clear message . . . that the Irish government sees the transition away from fossil fuels as very important,” he added. “Climate change is real, and if we are going to have any chance of meeting the [climate] goals, we may as well start now.”