A Catholic environmentalist has urged nations to follow Ireland’s lead as it is set to become the first country in the world to financially divest from fossil fuels.
Ellen Teague, of the Columban Justice, Peace and the Integrity of Creation, also paid tribute to Trócaire, the official overseas development agency of the Catholic Church in Ireland, for its continued lobbying of the Irish government over the issue.
The country is now set to sell off its investments in fossil fuel companies after the Fossil Fuel Divestment Bill, introduced by independent TD Thomas Pringle, was passed with all-party support in the lower house of parliament. The bill requires the Ireland Strategic Investment Fund (ISIF) to sell all of its investments in coal, oil, gas and peat ‘as soon as is practicable’.
Mrs Teague hailed the news as a “huge step forward” and insisted that it be acted on with urgency.
“Ireland is leading the way in breaking from an industry that has been blamed for contributing most to climate change. It is a huge step forward and should be acted on quickly.
“Just last month, an EU report ranked Ireland the second wost country in Europe for climate action, but that will now change,” Mrs Teague told The Universe.
“Tribute should be paid to the Caritas agency in Ireland, Trocaire, which lobbied the Irish government over two years not to be a ‘climate laggard’,” she continued. “Trocaire was present at the first meeting of the Global Catholic Climate Movement during the Paris Climate talks in 2015, as were the Columbans, and demonstrated their seriousness to get behind climate action.
“Other nations must urgently follow Ireland’s lead and divest from companies pumping out huge quantities of greenhouse gases. We hope to hear soon that Britain is pulling money from oil, gas and coal!”
Citing support from faith groups, Mrs Teague pointed out that the movement is gaining steam.
“The Church of England announced this month it would be divesting its funds from any companise that have not aligned themselves with the climate goals set out in the Paris Agreement on climate change. And last year, 40 Catholic Church institutions said they would be turning their backs on fossil fuel investment,” said Mrs Teague. “The movement is growing, and not before time as global temperatures around the world are hitting record highs this summer, causing great suffering in poor countries.”
Picture: Early morning walkers pass Poolbeg Power Station in Dublin. (Julien Behal/PA).