Irish lawmakers have positioned Ireland to be the first country in the world to divest from fossil fuels. According to the The New York Times, legislation was passed Wednesday in the country’s lower house of parliament, the Dail, requiring Ireland’s sovereign wealth fund to sell off its holdings in fossil fuel companies as soon as is practicable.
As The Times points out, the Irish environmentalist group, Trocaire, has been supporting the bill and called it both substantive and symbolic while Ireland’s Green Party called it a historic day on Twitter. However, what is largely left out of the press’s reporting shows that the proposal is meaningless.
According to The Financial Times, included in the bill are exemptions for fossil fuel companies that are declared to be in compliance with Ireland’s climate objectives. The legislation also includes exceptions for exchange traded or hedge funds which were added as amendments to the bill when it was first introduced two years ago. Meaning that investment in fossil fuels in Ireland will continue but it will be done a bit subtly than before.
The next step for the legislation is be considered by the Seanad, parliament’s upper house, during autumn where it is expected to be approved. None the less, Ireland’s divestment legislation will be nothing more than symbolic and accomplish nothing other than help generate fake news.
Fossil fuel divesters talk a good game when it comes to ridding the planet of fossil fuels but millions of people are improving their lives world wide by utilizing the very fuels these people reel against. They come up with schemes (like Ireland’s legislation) to make them feel better about their carbon usage. But their using electricity to light their homes or gas (petroleum or natural) to power their vehicles shows that their efforts to replace fossil fuels is not only an exercise in futility but ultimately blatant hypocrisy.