July 24th, 2017
A new national campaign has been launched to push every third-level institutions to divest from fossil fuels and commit to never investing in the industry again.
The new campaign – Fossil Free Ireland – was launched by Fossil Free TCD and Trócaire at an event in the capital last Saturday.
Over the past two years, several third-level institutions across Ireland have committed to divest from fossil fuels following student-led campaigns, including Trinity College Dublin (TCD), NUI Galway and Queen’s University Belfast (QUB).
These campaigns formed part of the international Fossil Free divestment movement, which has led to many academic institutions and businesses around the world committing to divestment.
The organisers of Fossil Free Ireland hope to work with QUB, NUI Galway and NUI Maynooth to “inspire and instruct the boards of other universities on the path to divestment,” according to Dean Rickaby, a member of Fossil Free TCD.
Speaking to The Green News, Mr Rickaby said that the new campaign aims “to procure divestment in all third-level institutions in Ireland and to ensure these institutions commit to never investing in fossil fuels”.
Fossil Free TCD has previously led a successful 15-month divestment campaign in Trinity College Dublin (TCD) that pushed the university to commit to divesting its investments in the industry in December 2016.
The new campaign seeks to build on this success and offer “support and advice” to students in other third-level institutions yet to commit to divestment, he said.
“It is important to empower these students so they understand divestment is achievable and that they as students have the power to take a stand against the apathetic fossil fuel industry,” he added.
According to Mr Rickaby, Trócaire will play a “pivotal role” in the campaign by providing “expertise from the NGO domain, assisting in any public relation actions and offering support through the campaign”.
On a national level, the divestment movement has also been making progress, with the Fossil Fuel Divestment Bill reaching Committee Stage in the Dáil last month.
The Irish Fossil Fuel Divestment Bill, brought by Independent Donegal Deputy Thomas Pringle, aims to make Ireland the first state to ban a state investment vehicle, the Ireland Strategic Investment Fund, from investing in fossil fuels.
If passed, the Bill will compel the ISIF to divest its assets from fossil fuel companies over a period of five years. The ISIF currently has 131 million ínvested in fossil fuel companies globally.
Speaking in front of a pre-legislative hearing last month, Mr Pringle said that the Bill was brought forward to ensure that “scarce public resources are invested in the technologies, industries and jobs of the future”.
“It’s about shifting policy and investment focus away from the technologies and industries that must be phased out if we are to protect civilisation as we know it,” he added.