Ireland is taking the most aggressive stance on climate change in world history.
This week, the Irish parliament secured cross-party support for a measure to end to the government’s support of fossil fuels. If successful, this would be the first time that a country fully divested from fossil fuels and pledged to never again invest in the sector.
Members of the parliament see the initiative as a matter of heightened urgency following the election of US president Donald Trump who is a climate change skeptic.
They also see it as a long overdue challenge to the dominance of fossil fuels around the world.
"This principle of ethical financing is a symbol to these global corporations that their continual manipulation of climate science, denial of the existence of climate change and their controversial lobbying practices of politicians around the world is no longer tolerated," Thomas Pringle, an Independent politician, told the Belfast Telgraph.
The proposal has the chance to become law in a few months, according to the Belfast Telegraph, after it goes through the necessary channels.
It primarily targets the Ireland Strategic Investment Fund, which handles 8 billion euros. The fund would have five years to sell off all investments in fossil fuels and would be banned from making new investments in the sector.
"The maths is beyond doubt,” said Green Party leader Eamon Ryan to the Telegraph. “It is based on simple and clear physics.”
"We have to leave four-fifths of known fossil fuel reserves in the ground,” he said. “That is what we are acknowledging and legislating for here."
Time is running out for meaningful climate action and governments everywhere are adopting a greater sense of urgency. China, for example, recently announced one of the biggest investment strategies for renewable energy in world history.
Divestment from fossil fuels has also gained momentum in recent years. By the end of last year, 688 institutions, including many universities, and more than 58,000 individuals worth more than $5.5 trillion in assets have divested from fossil fuels.
It was recently announced that 2016 was the third consecutive hottest year in recorded history. How many more years of rising temperatures the Earth can endure without dramatic consequences is unclear. But what is clear is that fossil fuels are no longer tenable.
Ireland is championing this message — but they won’t be the last.