On Thursday, July 12th, a small, rainy island in the North Atlantic proved it was on the right side of history.
The Republic of Ireland passed a bill to divest its $370 million worth of investments in around 150 fossil fuel companies within five years. Should the bill pass the Irish Senate in September, which it is expected to do, Ireland will become the first country to fully divest from fossil fuels.
This action marks a huge step forward.
For years now, neighborhood climate activists have pressured cities, universities, and governments to divest their holdings in fossil fuel companies. The idea is to defund and denounce the industry that contributes the most to climate change, funds climate denial, and prevents climate action.
With its divestment bill, Ireland will join a group of almost 900 cities, universities, and governments that have collectively divested over $6 trillion from the extractive fossil fuel economy.
As a leader of a fossil fuel divestment campaign on my college campus in Massachusetts, Ireland’s leadership offers a fun bit of leverage: If an entire country can fully divest from fossil fuels and not crumble into financial despair (in fact, fossil fuels have been a losing investment for years), my university can surely divest its endowment from this destructive industry without harming its revenues.
Ireland’s leadership can also inspire local governments to divest their pension funds from fossil fuels. While it’s quite unlikely that our current federal government will follow in Ireland’s footsteps, American cities and towns can take a stand against the fossil fuel industry one pension fund at a time.
New York City’s pledge to divest its $189 billion pension fund from fossil fuels is perhaps the most ambitious of these commitments. Not only is the city divesting — it’s also suing five fossil fuel firms for their contributions to climate change.
Equally compelling, however, are the numerous smaller American cities that have committed to full divestment from fossil fuels.
The city of Richmond, California, one of the poorest communities in the Bay Area, similarly pledged to divest and to sue fossil fuel companies. Surrounded on all three sides by water, and populated by many low-income people of color, the city and its population are disproportionately impacted by climate change.
Richmond’s main employer is a Chevron refinery, which for decades has employed residents while simultaneously polluting their environment, jeopardizing their health, and contributing to sea level rise, which threatens to displace the very population that it employs.
Other local governments that have taken the plunged include Amherst, Massachusetts; Ann Arbor, Michigan; Dane County, Wisconsin; and Multnomah County, Oregon, which have all committed to full divestment from oil, gas, and coal companies.
Whether you’re a student, worker, or resident, you can pressure your school, company, or local government to stand for the planet by divesting from fossil fuels. If Ireland, a country known for its religious and political conservatism, can make this commitment to climate justice, anyone can.
Celia Bottger is a Next Leader on the Climate Policy Project at the Institute for Policy Studies.
Palm Coast can’t even handle the influence of overflow rain water in its in ground drains without having to call upon pump trucks to pump it out. Palm Coast needs to concentrate on so much more, like jobs, drugs. . Last time I looked, there were NO oil or coal companies producing power in Palm Coast.
I wonder if the author drives a car, flies on airplanes, uses a computer to write, wears clothes made of synthetic materials, shoes with rubber souls, rides a bike with rubber tires, or lives in an air conditioned home. If she does any of these things then she lacks the moral authority to advocate what she does. On the other hand, if she lives in a teepee, runs to work while wearing shoes handcrafted of grape leaves and vines, writes on a manual typewriter on paper she manufactures at home then kudos to her. Otherwise, she is advocating the destruction of her own lifestyle as all of the former actions utilize fossil fuels extracted from the ground. It’s a classic case of “Do as I say, not as I do.”
Jim Bob says
But…but…but, that’s socialism! And Palm Coast remains in the thrall of the Reagan Assembly cult.
You would trust people who cannot maintain storm drains, with electricity producing equipment? Might not be a wise move. Someone might get electrocuted while standing in backed up rainwater…….
Nancy N. says
Some of the commenters have clearly either not read the article or have no idea what “divest” means.
Just another tree hugger spouting off while in the shadows she utilizes many fossil fuel products. Get a life or get lost!
@Republican and Libertarian wing nuts are never at a loss for a false choice
Making perfection an enemy of the best possible is a weasel’s device. Don’t fall for it. We can do better.
Ah, but a man’s reach should exceed his grasp, Or what’s a heaven for?
– Robert Browning
My question is, has anyone seen Satellite photos of the Yangzi river in China. Take a look, those pollution plumes you see, all mostly come from solar panel factories. And you also need battery storage, that is expensive and also requires heavy metals, real good for the environment…….
Just me says
Just dumb. Ok so they will/might divest from oil companies that will do nothing to change the fact that right NOW the world depends on such for its energy needs.
Always some that will place blame on politics. Do you have any idea how much of the products you use daily rely on petrochems? All while you use your k cups and coffee lids, and complain about plastic straws. BTW all brought to you by Petrochems………
Come now. . . surly there must be some in our community who can actually “think” beyond Fox, trump and the end of their nose.
Over 95% of “scientists” have proven that humans contribute significantly to the “climate change” we are in the early stages of experiencing. They have also proven that using fossil fuels for energy is a major cause of environmental pollutions.
Changing to cleaner, more sustainable energy sources begins with those in power, and that certainly means “politicians.” Florida is the “Sunshine” state, yet “big oil” has legally bribed our political leaders, and utility CEOs enough to almost completely STOP the use of clean solar energy. Before you start with the completely “lame” talking point that solar arrays are ugly. . . they should be required to be deployed on the “roof” of every new public building.
The basic problem with solar is. . . they can’t figure out a way to charge we consumers for sunshine. Don’t worry though, once FPL can find a way to make even more profits from solar that from fossil fuels, they will be hot on it.
Follow the Money! Capitalism solves everything. . . NOT!
Capitalism is still the best thing going. Just ask those in socialist countries who try to come here, cause they have nothing.
“Shouldn’t ‘Tree City’ live up to its name?”
On that point, it seems like every time you turn around they are cutting down big, beautiful oaks around here. Lining the road medians with little trees that produce little oxygen and shade is not forestation. When woods get cleared for commercial and residential developments, the trend is the yanking of every remaining tree out of the ground so there is no refuge from the scorching sun. “Tree City,” that’s a good one.