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Trinity has put itself on the right side of history, time for Government to follow suit

12 Dec 2016

Trinity Fossil Free campaigners with the Provost, Dr Patrick Prendergast.

Stop Climate Chaos Coalition
News Release
4pm Monday 12th December 2016

Trinity College's Decision to Divest from Fossil Fuels an "Historic Step"

Victorious student campaigners join call for Government to take taxpayers' money out of fossil fuels

On the first anniversary of the signing of the Paris Agreement on Climate Change, Stop Climate Chaos welcomes the official announcement by Trinity College Dublin that it is divesting its endowment fund of all investments in fossil fuel companies, in light of the urgency to wind down the fossil fuel industry if the commitments made in Paris are to be met. Stop Climate Chaos, the coalition of civil society organisations campaigning for climate action in Ireland, will join Trinity student campaigners at the Dáil tomorrow at 1pm to bring the message of their campaign to politicians and call for the Government to divest the Ireland Strategic Investment Fund.

Commenting, Stop Climate Chaos spokesperson, Oisin Coghlan said

"Trinity's decision to divest is an historic step. One year ago today in Paris political leaders made a solemn commitment to limit warming of the planet to well below 2 degrees C. There is ample evidence that fossil fuel companies have far more fossil fuels in their currently operating fields and reserves than we can ever burn if we are to respect that limit. Avoiding climate catastrophe means keeping the majority of remaining fossil fuels in the ground, and ramping up renewables to meet our energy needs."

The business plans of fossil fuel companies show they have no intention of abiding by the Paris Agreement. They intend to continue to extract and explore for even more fossil fuels.

Oisin Coghlan continued

"A safe future means a fossil free future. By divesting you send a clear message to the fossil fuel industry that what they are doing is unacceptable, and you send a message to political leaders, that they need to act urgently and decisively to wind down the fossil fuel industry in a just and orderly manner. Today, Trinity has put itself on the right side of history. Now it's time for the Government to do the same."

Eamonn Meehan, Director of Trocaire said:

"Current climate impacts are already too much for the communities that we work with. Today, 9.7 million people in Ethiopia are in need of food aid due to drought, exacerbated by climate change and El Nino. To fail to deliver on the commitments made in Paris is to knowingly condemn these women, men and children to even further suffering. This is something we simply cannot accept. Divesting the Ireland Strategic Investment Fund of its investments in fossil fuels would send a powerful signal of intent to people in Ireland, and people around the world, that Ireland is serious about the commitments made in Paris last year."

Fossil fuel divestment campaigns in Ireland are part of a global movement, the fastest growing of its kind in history. Spearheaded by university students running campus campaigns to urge their universities to divest in light of the moral inconsistency of their investments in an industry that is undermining the future of the students, it has seen a wide and varied range of actors join its ranks in a few short years – from the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, a fortune built on oil, to pension funds, towns and cities in the US and Europe, including Berlin, Copenhagen, Oslo , faith groups and others. To date more than 600 institutions controlling assets of around $5 trillion have committed to divest.

Phil Kearney, Chair of the An Taisce Climate Change Committe said:

"President Trump is saying very concerning things about his intentions with regard to climate action. In Ireland on the other hand politicians are saying lots about our commitment to climate change, but in reality we’re moving in the wrong direction.

"Carbon emissions and energy use rose in Ireland last year. The credibility of Minister Naughten’s National Mitigation Plan due to be published this week will be seriously in question if it fails to chart a pathway to Ireland meeting the commitments it signed up to in Paris.

"We congratulate the Trinity students on their excellent campaign. We’ll be joining them at the Dail tomorrow to show politicians that the voices in Ireland calling for real ambition and action are growing."

ENDS

Notes

1) The official press release from Trinity College announcing the decision is here: http://bit.ly/TCD121216

2) The press release from the student Fossil Free TCD campaign is here: http://bit.ly/Stu121216

3) Stop Climate Chaos "5 tests for Ireland's climate action plans" briefing is here: http://bit.ly/SCC5tests

4) Stop Climate Chaos is a coalition of 30 civil society organisations campaigning for Ireland to do its fair share to tackle climate change. Launched in 2007, it is the largest network of organisations campaigning on climate change in Ireland, and was central to the campaign for a climate law. The members include development, environmental, youth and faith-based organisations: Afri, BirdWatch Ireland, Christian Aid Ireland, Comhlámh, Community Workers’ Cooperative, Concern, Cultivate, Cyclist.ie, Dublin Friends of the Earth, Eco Congregation Ireland, ECO UNESCO, Feasta, Friends of the Earth, Gorta, Jesuit Centre for Faith and Justice, Just Forests, Kimmage Development Studies Centre, Latin America Solidarity Centre (LASC), Liberia Solidarity Group, Methodist Church of Ireland – Council of Social Responsibility, Mountmellick Environmental Group (MEG), National Youth Council of Ireland, Oxfam Ireland, Peoples Climate Ireland, Presentation Ireland, Sustain West Cork, Trócaire, An Taisce, VITA and V.O.I.C.E.

Stop Climate Chaos, 9 Upper Mount Street, D02 K659. www.stopclimatechaos.ie.

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