Oireachtas Joint and Select Committees

Wednesday, 6 November 2019

Joint Oireachtas Committee on Climate Action

Conference of the Parties, COP, 25: Discussion

Professor John Sweeney:

That is quite a menu to tackle, but I will do my best for some of those questions. Starting with divestment, this is a good success story for Ireland. The NGO sector was, by and large, behind this success, with the help of Deputy Pringle, which was instrumental. There is a favourable view of Ireland in many of the COPs meetings we attend, because it was the first country in the world to divest its sovereign wealth fund. That is a great achievement. There also needs to be similar action at individual level and down the scale. Universities are now actively divesting, as are faith groups and foundations. All in all, this is a great story and credit is due to Ireland for achieving it.

As Senator Devine mentioned, there are limited opportunities for individuals to go through their unit trusts, find out what percentage is invested in fossil fuel companies and then withdraw that. There is a limited market for that, but I think such a market will emerge from the demands of the public. Even now, some companies are moving toward impact investment rather than simply stating that they will not allow investment in fossil fuel companies. They are deciding to be more positive and to invest in Kenya or Malawi, where funds can do more good in the combined areas of climate and development. We will see market forces moving that way as well.

Turning to the extreme weather events and premature deaths, we have covered that already but in the developing world we expect those premature deaths to increase substantially in the years ahead. That will be caused by a combination of individual events, but also by the spread of diseases as new forms become viable in warming climates. Some of those diseases will affect us in Ireland, in a limited way, in the years ahead. On OPEC, that organisation is looking for a just transition as well. This is where negotiations will probably hit the rocks in some ways. I do not see the rest of the world agreeing to-----


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