THE fossil fuel industry should not be used to help boost council pension funds, it is claimed.

Councillors elected to serve Southend want support for their motion to stop propping up the firms and contributing to climate change after a United Nations report claimed the world is 12 years from disaster.

Labour councillors Matt Dent and Julian Ware-Lane want to see the motion discussed at Southend’s full council meeting on Thursday October 18 and claim that divesting the Essex Pension Fund will show leadership.

Data from 2017 shows almost 4per cent four percent of the fund has been directly invested into the fossil fuel industry – a total of £19.2million.

These include £5.9million with Tata Power in India, £3.3million in Oil Search and £1.2million in BP.

Mr Dent said: “This is about leadership, fossil fuels are from a bygone age and we need to divest them not just at a council level, but at every level of society.

“Investments in the industry is something that goes under the radar and it’s not something people would think their pension funds are being invested in.

“I don’t see why divesting from these firms would needs to result in a financial impact on the pension beneficiaries.”

Mr Dent admitted that he doesn’t know the “intricacies” of the measure, but feels it would be supported by the public.

The Essex Pension Fund is part of the Local Government Pension Scheme and is paid into by employees from across the county, including those working for councils, schools and charities.

Councillor Andrew Moring, councillor responsible fr Corporate Support Services, said: “Southend makes up a very small part of the pension fund so even if the council agreed to this motion, the board could vote against us.

“The point of the pension fund is to get the best returns for our pensioners and we do not invest in unethical industries. The energy industry is not taboo in this country.”