Pringle successfully moves Dail motion amending his own Fossil Fuel Divestment Bill


Donegal Deputy Thomas Pringle has successfully moved a Dail motion amending his own Fossil Fuel Divestment Bill.

The 2018 act sought to ensure there would be no government investment in fossil fuels, but the Ireland Strategic Investment Fund still holds millions of euro in investments in such firms.

This he says is because of a loophole in the original act which allows indirect investment in fossil fuel through hedge funds or similar financial arrangements.

Deputy Pringle said while the government supported the motion, he actions of the ISIF and the government’s own stated positions seem at times to be contrary to it.

Deputy Pringle told the Dail the reality is if global warming targets are to be met, there can be no more delays……..




Deputy Pringle’s statement on the motion –


Independent TD for Donegal, Thomas Pringle, has brought forward a motion to amend and strengthen the landmark the Fossil Fuel Divestment Act 2018, saying, “the cold, hard facts of the matter are that our climate is changing and fossil fuels are significantly responsible.”

Addressing the Dáil today, Deputy Pringle said the motion is very timely in the wake of COP28, saying: “We are facing a terrifying reality, not just the fact that our world is changing and becoming increasingly unliveable, but the fact that many of those who are supposed to be leading the fight against climate change are, at best, watery on climate commitments and, at worst, verging dangerously on climate denial.”

Deputy Pringle said: “The announcement yesterday of an agreement at COP is welcome, and it makes this motion more timely, but yet we still see the wording is very weak.”

The deputy said: “I was very proud to introduce the Fossil Fuel Divestment Act 2018, and the landmark legislation was an important and notable step forward in ensuring our laws reflect the national commitments made in tackling global warming and climate change. It was a proud moment for Ireland and it made this country a global pioneer in divesting public money from fossil fuels. However, let’s be clear, it was a modest step towards our goal.

“Unfortunately, the legislation was not successful in divesting completely from fossil fuels. Since the enactment of the Fossil Fuel Divestment Act in 2018, investments are still being made. At the beginning of 2023, the ISIF held 12.5 million US dollars in bonds and shares attributable to agribusiness in the Global South. Of this, the Ireland Strategic Investment Fund held $12.1 million, with Waystone accounting for the majority of the remaining investments.

“This is largely due to the ability of investment managers and funds to take advantage of the exclusionary clause regarding indirect investment for particular financial vehicles such as hedge and pension funds. The main loophole in the 2018 Act is that the Act contains an exclusionary clause that permits indirect investment in fossil fuel undertakings to be made in financial derivative instruments, exchange traded funds or hedge funds. So while an outright investment in a particular fossil fuel undertaking is prohibited, an indirect holding through a hedge fund is permitted. This undermines the overall intention behind the 2018 Act and is completely against the spirit of the Act as well.

“Recently published research by ActionAid shows that European banks have provided a staggering $327 billion of financing to fossil fuel and agribusiness activities in the Global South in the seven years since the Paris Agreement, with $6.2 billion coming from financial institutions in Ireland. Ireland needs to address this as a matter of urgency, along with working with any EU regulation.  

“Amending the 2018 Act would be a clear and meaningful action towards ensuring proper divestment and that’s what today’s motion calls for. Without closing these loopholes, the investment in fossil fuels will continue and our apparent commitment to stopping environmental endangerment caused by fossil fuels becomes little more than lip service,” he said.

Deputy Pringle was speaking on the Independent group Motion re Increased Fossil Fuel Divestment. The motion received broad support in this morning’s debate and was passed.

Deputy Pringle said: “For a long time, the threat and reality of the situation was easy to dismiss in temperate, rainy Ireland. There is a deep injustice in this, given that those who have done the least to cause this climate crisis, and who have the least capacity to absorb and recover from its impact, are suffering the most from its impacts.” However, even Ireland is beginning to feel the effects, he said.

The deputy said: “Heatwaves scorched the country this summer, not even reaching the highs our neighbours on the continent are experiencing year on year, and as a result wildfires had devastating effects on places like Greece and Hawaii. This was followed by weeks-long deluges. October saw Donegal and other parts of the country reach highs of 20 degrees. 

“We may have joked about how nice it was, but the reality is that our farmers felt the impact on their crops. Our countryside and ecosystems battled to recover. Let’s be clear about this, climate legislation is not anti-farmer, climate legislation is pro-farmer due to the fact that its main aim is to protect the land that so many farmers rely on to provide us all with food. 

“Winter storms and floods are becoming more and more frequent. Homes and businesses are under water with such regularity that people cannot even get insured. Just a few days ago we saw a localised tornado cause significant damage in County Leitrim. Every year is more volatile and increasingly extreme, and this is just what we are experiencing in Ireland. All of it is, without a doubt, due to climate change. 

“The United Nations reports that fossil fuels, namely coal, oil and gas, are by far the largest contributor to global climate change, accounting for over 75% percent of global greenhouse gas emissions and nearly 90% of all carbon dioxide emissions,” he said.

The deputy said many organisations have produced thorough research into the area and he thanked in particular Trócaire and ActionAid, whose research makes up most of the motion and who provided great assistance in its drafting.

Deputy Pringle said: “After fossil fuels, agribusiness is the largest contributor to climate change. The EPA reports that in 2022, in Ireland alone, the agriculture sector was directly responsible for 38.4% of national greenhouse gas emissions. Giant agribusiness corporations, which have an industrialised approach, are responsible for the bulk of emissions in the sector. 

“Industrialised agriculture drives deforestation and expands factory farming. To do so they aggressively market agrochemicals which lead to high amounts of greenhouse gas emissions. The industrialised agribusiness sector utilises fossil fuels to produce these agrochemicals. This is just one example of the interdependence of fossil fuel and agribusiness industries.  I am aware that any discussion around agriculture here is of great interest, and rightly so. 

“That is why this conversation is so important and of particular relevance to Ireland, a farming nation. The farming industry needs to recognise that the giant agribusiness sector undermines smallholder farmers. Farms that implement agroecological farming systems are having their efforts thwarted by the giant industrialised farming mechanisms that undo their good work a hundredfold,” he said.

The deputy also said research shows that moving slowly on policy and environmental implementations may be of detriment to financial investments as well as the climate, saying fossil fuel investments are becoming increasingly less attractive due to the global transition toward a more sustainable economic and environmental model.

Deputy Pringle said: “Fossil fuel investments are now being consistently out-performed by renewables. According to Forbes, investment in renewable power continues to outperform fossil fuel investment across the globe. This is based on statistics showing that investment in renewables have a return seven times higher than investment in fossil fuels.” This trend was corroborated by numerous studies, he said.

Deputy Pringle said: “What this tells us today, is that our decision is essentially a simple one. Yes, removing the indirect investment exclusion clause will mean that investment funds and managers will no longer be able to utilise financial vehicles to indirectly invest in fossil fuels. However, the data shows that the trend is pointing squarely towards renewable energy investment outpacing fossil fuels. Furthermore, it is important to remember that the proposed Amendment is not curtailing all investment, merely that which circumvents the spirit of the original Act. 

“We do not exist in a vacuum, nor do our policies. The decisions we make here affect millions across the world. In amending the Fossil Fuel Divestment Act, we would ensure that its intended purpose is achieved and our approach to climate policies are cohesive. 

“If we wish to keep the target of 1.5C degrees as realistically achievable then we need to phase out fossil fuels. The amendments needed in the Fossil Fuel Divestment Act are merely one step that we can take as legislatures to do our part, but mark my words, this is the bare minimum we can do.  What is required is a workable, considered roadmap on how governments can achieve this on a larger scale.  The Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty provides a global plan for what is required to achieve an equitable phase-out of fossil fuels. The treaty will provide a working guide for governments to stop the expansion of fossil fuels, while also achieving true just transition to renewable energy.”

In his response to the debate, Deputy Pringle said: “It’s very positive that the Government is supporting the motion and supporting the passing of this, which is very welcome,” and said he hoped the Government will work to implement the motion.

However, the deputy said: “When you look at the detail in the Government’s contribution to the debate it’s very disingenuous, because a lot of it is direct opposite to the actual motion itself, and it makes you wonder whether they are actually supporting it.”