Fianna Fáil, Independents for Change, the Green Party, Labour, Sinn Féin and other TDs voted unanimously to pass to committee stage a bill put forward by Thomas Pringle, TD, that calls on government to divest from fossil fuel companies.
Fine Gael voted against it.
Deputy Pringle said he was delighted the bill had progressed to the next stage, a process not often afforded to bills brought forward by opposition members.
“This will ensure that the government is serious about climate action and achieves the goals set out in the Paris Agreement,” the independent Donegal TD said.
Deputy Pringle's bill calls on government to take out any public money the government has invested in fossil fuel companies over a course of five years.
He said about 17 per cent of the Ireland Strategic Investment Fund, which includes more than €800 million, is invested in fossil fuel companies.
The deputy said his bill will not require Ireland to stop using fossil fuels. If passed, the bill would mean the state is not allowed to invest in fossil fuel companies.
“This principle of ethical financing is a symbol to these global corporations that their continual manipulation of climate science, denial of the existence of climate change and their controversial lobbying practices of politicians around the world is no longer tolerated,” he said.
“We cannot accept their actions while millions of poor people in underdeveloped nations bear the brunt of climate change forces as they experience famine, mass emigration and civil unrest as a result.”
Price of oil
Deputy Pringle said, “We need to mitigate against climate change, but it also makes financial sense for the government to divest from these companies.”
He said the price of oil has become increasingly volatile despite recent rises in price.
“Their business models are outdated and precarious so it makes both moral and financial sense to take out our investments in these companies,” he said.
This is an opportunity for the government to send out a powerful message, he said.
“I hope to see the bill enacted over the next few months and that other countries will follow suit,” he said. “We are a small country but this would be a powerful move on our part.”
Deputy Pringle offered thanks to all who voted for the bill; to Trócaire, for their campaigning and advocacy on the issue; to the Global Legal Action Network for their assistance in the drafting of the bill and "particularly to the activists on the ground throughout universities, colleges and schools who campaigned on this issue and who continue to support the progress of this bill".