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Ireland urged to end investment in fossil fuels

By editor - 22 April, 2016

“By investing in fossil fuel industries, Ireland is funding climate change,” Eamonn Meehan of Trócaire warns.

Trocaire - Fossil fuels

Trócaire on Thursday launched a new campaign which calls on the incoming Government to divest public money from the fossil fuel industry and prohibit all future public investments in the industry.

The Burning Question campaign asks people in Ireland whether their money is being used to fund climate change.

Last year, Ireland had investments of approximately €72m in the fossil fuel industry through the Irish Strategic Investment Fund (ISIF), the successor to the National Pension Reserve Fund.

According to Trócaire, it is unacceptable for the government to continue to invest public money into an industry that is driving climate change, leading to drought, hunger and humanitarian crisis in the developing world.

The launch of the new campaign sees Trócaire join the global divestment campaign calling for an end to investments in the fossil fuel industry.

As of March 2016, more than 500 institutions around the world, with an approximate value of $3.4 trillion, have committed to divestment from fossil fuels.

Trócaire Executive Director Eamonn Meehan has called on Irish institutions, organisations and companies to join the global divestment movement.

In a statement on Thursday, he reminded the public that “Climate change is the biggest crisis of our time and compounds poverty in the developing world.”

He said every day, Trócaire responds to the impacts of climate change in some of the poorest communities in the world.

“These people have done nothing to cause the problem and yet they are suffering the most through droughts, floods and storms made worse by climate change.”

There are currently 60 million people across the developing world suffering food shortages due to drought.

The head of Trócaire emphasised that Irish people have consistently responded to humanitarian emergencies brought about by climate change, but he added that these investments undermine those efforts.

“By investing in fossil fuel industries, Ireland is funding climate change,” Eamonn Meehan warned.

“Ireland has committed itself to phasing-out fossil fuels as part of its role in combatting climate change.It makes no sense for the government to continue to invest in the very industry it is committed to phasing-out.”

Recalling how in 2008 the then Government enacted legislation to prohibit state investment in the cluster munitions industry on ethical grounds, he said that given the scale of the climate crisis facing the world, the time has come to do likewise with the fossil fuel industry.

“Withdrawing the ISIF investments would be hugely symbolic. Divesting from fossil fuels and prohibiting future investment in the industry would send a powerful message that there is a step change in Ireland toward a more ambitious and coherent policy on climate change.”

“The UN Paris Agreement adopted last December commits governments around the world to limiting global warming to below 2 degrees Celsius, but we know that this is not possible on current emissions levels.”

“We need a rapid increase in ambition and action in order to meet international targets and save the world’s poorest people from even more extreme effects.”

“The current refugee crisis will only grow into the future if we stand back and allow huge swathes of land become essentially uninhabitable and continue to make people even more vulnerable to extreme weather.”

“The global divestment movement is demanding more ambition from political leaders. We are calling on Irish people to make this a political issue and to demand that TDs refuse to accept continued Irish investment in an industry that is destroying the planet.”

The Irish Strategic Investment Fund (ISIF), the successor to the National Pension Reserve Fund, is an investment vehicle of the Irish Government funded by tax payer money.

According to its most recent Annual Report, the ISIF had investments in some of the world’s most controversial fossil fuel companies, to a value of €72million.

The ISIF has invested in some of the planet’s worst climate offenders. Particularly concerning are investments in TransCanada, the company behind the controversial Keystone XL pipe in the US that was vetoed by President Obama, and Peabody Energy, a coal company which refers to climate change as ‘a non-existent harm’.

The UN Paris Agreement will be signed in New York today 22 April. This Agreement commits governments around the world to decarbonisation, limiting global warming to well below two degrees Celsius, while pursuing a more ambitious limit of 1.5 degrees Celsius.

The White Paper ‘Ireland’s Transition to a Low Carbon Energy Future 2015-2030’, launched in December 2015, commits Ireland to achieving 80-95% decarbonisation by 2050 and full decarbonisation by the end of the century.

Trócaire works in over 20 countries throughout the developing world, including some of the countries most vulnerable to the effects of climate change. This includes Honduras, Malawi, Ethiopia, Pakistan and Guatemala.

For further information or to read the full report please visit: trocaire.org/burningquestion

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