Seanad debates

Thursday, 20 December 2018

Finance (African Development (Bank and Fund) and Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill 2018: Committee and Remaining Stages

 

1:15 pm

Photo of Alice Mary HigginsAlice Mary Higgins (Independent) | Oireachtas source

I move amendment No. 1:

In page 7, after line 33, to insert the following:“Report on fossil fuel divestment

9. The Minister shall, within 12 months of the passing of this Act, lay a report before both Houses of the Oireachtas on Ireland’s participation in the African Development Bank and Fund and its compatibility with Ireland’s commitment to fossil fuel divestment, including a consideration of measures being taken to support divestment.”.

This amendment is simply seeking consistency between the policies we pass in this House. I support our investment in the African Development Bank but, given that it is a significant investment as Ireland will be contributing €62 million, it is important we apply proper scrutiny and ensure that large investment is complementary to our other commitments. I specifically reference the Fossil Fuel Divestment Act which states, "[the NTMA] shall endeavour to ensure that the assets of the Fund are not invested in an indirect investment at any time after the commencement of this section, unless it is satisfied on reasonable grounds that such indirect investment is unlikely to have in excess of 15 per cent of its assets, or such lower percentage as the Minister may prescribe by order made under this section, invested in a fossil fuel undertaking". My amendment is simply asking that the Minister should, within the first year of the passing of this Act, lay a report before the Houses of the Oireachtas around Ireland's participation in the African Development Bank and Fund and the extent to which it is compatible with Ireland's commitment to fossil fuel divestment, including a consideration of any measures as may be taken by the bank to support divestment.

We have heard the measures that are being taken within the governance of the African Development Bank and Fund and I appreciate those. There is a further responsibility for Ireland, separate to the measures being taken internally in the fund, in its responsibility to these Houses. What I am asking for can be brought into the Bill by way of amendment or perhaps the Minister of State will commit to doing it otherwise. We need to see a consideration of the African National Bank and Fund and the percentage of investment that Ireland is involved with. Is there investment that has in excess of 15% of its assets invested in fossil fuel undertakings? That is an important issue. What other considerations are there in terms of fossil fuel divestment or a widening of investment within the African National Bank and Fund?

I am asking for a report to show that compatibility. The Minister of State might indicate other ways or measures in which we can be assured of that because the Fossil Fuel Divestment Act specifically sets out rules for both direct and indirect investment from Ireland. I am trying to ensure we follow through on that. I hope the Minister of State can offer me information on the issue.

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