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Ireland Moves to Divest From Fossil Fuels

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A bill passed in the lower house of Parliament was a victory for the global divestment movement.

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A power station on the Dublin Bay. Supporters of the bill are aiming for full divestment within five years. CreditDave Walsh/VW Pics/UIG, via Getty Images

Ireland on Thursday moved to pull its public funds out of fossil fuels, a development that marks the most significant advance to date for a divestment campaign pushed by environmentalists worldwide.

The lower house of Parliament passed a bill that requires the country’s sovereign fund, valued at 8.9 billion euros, or about $10.4 billion, to move out of fossil fuels “as soon as practicable.”

An aide to Thomas Pringle, the member of Parliament who proposed the measure, said the bill had the support of Prime Minister Leo Varadkar and was expected to become law. When it does, Ireland will become the first country to formally pledge to divest from fossil fuels.

The vote in the Irish Parliament follows a recommendation by Norway’s central bank in late 2017 for its $1 trillion sovereign wealth fund to drop its oil company investments. While Norway, the largest oil producer in Europe, has not yet decided on whether to divest, the very suggestion is a signal of waning confidence in the future of the petroleum business by one of its major players.



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