No Enda in sight when it comes to fossil fuels

Bill Walsh reflects back on Freshers’ Week when Fossil Free TCD activist Deirdre Duff questioned the Taoiseach on his knowledge of divestment


“Fossil fuels are going nowhere,” stated a hesitant Enda Kenny confronted by Deirdre Duff from Fossil Free TCD during Freshers’ Week this year.

He went on to say that the €72m worth of public money invested in multinational energy companies such as Peabody Energy (which went bankrupt this year) were: “very good investments”. This is in obvious contradiction to the promises made by Kenny while addressing the UN Convention on Climate Change in Paris during 2015. There he stat ed that Ireland was: “committed, with our EU partners, to a collective target to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by at least 40 per cent by 2030” and that the government intends to: “substantially cut CO2 emissions by 2050”.

Fossil Free TCD is a student led campaign group mandated by the Student Union that calls on Trinity College to divest the €6.1m it has already invested in companies that extract fossil fuels such as Phillips 66, Enbridge and Marathon. It was founded in the Summer of 2015 and organises various campaigns on campus such as the Solidarity with Standing Rock campaign. This campaign aims to express solidarity with the Native American Sioux tribe, who are protesting the building of the Dakota Access Pipeline through the Standing Rock Indian Reserve. The oil pipeline threatens to pollute the water supply of the Sioux Indians living on the reserve located on the border between North and South Dakota. Fossil Free TCD is also concerned about the €72m that the Irish government invested during 2014 through the Irish Strategic Investment Fund in companies that extract fossil fuels.

It was this concern that prompted Fossil Free TCD activist Deirdre Duff to raise the issue with the Taoiseach when he paid a typically buoyant visit to the Young Fine Gael stand during Freshers’ Week this year. Indeed, many people were greatly excited to see Mr Kenny arrive at Trinity College on that busy afternoon. One ardent and exuberant member of Young Fine Gael appeared very keen to shake Kenny’s hand and tell him that it was: “such a privilege and an honour” to meet him. This is of very little wonder really, because after all Enda is of course a very remarkable man.

He possesses the mysterious capability of being able to invest millions of euro from the public purse into bankrupt energy companies while committing to reduce our CO2 emissions “substantially” by 2050. One wonders if it might have occurred to him that those: “very good investments” he made in the now bankrupt Peabody Energy might have been: “even better investments” had he invested that €72m in renewable energy. After all, according to the International Energy Agency renewable energy will: “represent the largest single source of electricity growth over the next five years”.

We can all hope however that the wise leadership of our dear Taoiseach will prevail. As Enda Kenny said at the UN Convention on Climate Change last year: “Let’s send the signal the world is waiting for and let us not deprive our successors and their children of a real future before they are born”.