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Ireland becomes one of the first countries to pull its fossil fuel investments

Edmund Heaphy
Finance and news reporter
Ireland divested from €68m worth of stocks in companies involved in fossil fuels. Pic: Reuters

Irish finance minister Pascal Donohoe on Friday said that the country’s sovereign wealth fund had withdrawn its €68m (£61m) investment in fossil fuel companies, making Ireland one of the world’s first countries to make such a move.

Following two years of campaigning, a law requiring the €9bn Strategic Investment Fund to divest from coal, oil and gas investments was passed by the country’s parliament in July 2018.

“The passing of this legislation marks Ireland out as one of the first countries in the world to withdraw public money from investment in fossil fuels,” Donohoe said.

As part of the divestment, the fund sold shares in 38 global fossil fuel companies, his ministry noted.

The law that brought about this change was proposed by Thomas Pringle, an independent member of Ireland’s parliament.

Though it was initially opposed by the country’s minority government, an ensuing amendment to the bill saw it garner cross-party support.

This followed similar divestments by Irish universities, such as Trinity College Dublin and Queen’s University Belfast.

The fund has created a list of 148 fossil fuel companies that derive more than 20% of their revenues from fossil fuels in which it will not invest in the future, including Exxon Mobil (XOM), BP (BP), and PetroChina (PTR).

Junior finance minister Michael D’Arcy claimed the move signalled the importance Ireland attaches to climate change.

But a December 2018 ranking said Ireland was the worst country in the European Union for taking action on climate change.

In response, Irish environment minister Richard Bruton admitted the country was “far off course in our response to climate change.”

The fund, the ministry said, was also looking at other ways of reducing its carbon footprint, and has been asked to focus on investments or projects that try to address climate change.