CLIMATE change campaigners have criticised Scottish Borders Council for investing in some of the most damaging industries on the planet.

A new report by Common Weal, UNISON Scotland and Friends of the Earth Scotland has highlighted cash from the local authority's pension fund has been pumped into fossil fuel firms.

And the authors couldn't find any evidence of a penny going towards green energy schemes.

Scottish Borders Council invests £1.7 million in Shell, who are fracking in North America and accused of being responsible for a series of spills in Nigeria.

They also have £368,433 with BHP Billiton, the 12th largest extractor of coal in the world, currently mining in the centre of the Borneo rainforest and facing prosecution over Brazil’s worst ever environmental disaster.

The report found that, in contrast with other Scottish councils, the Scottish Borders Council were not investing any of their pension fund in renewable energy or social housing projects.

Report author Ric Lander, divestment campaigner at Friends of the Earth Scotland, commented: "Council pension funds have huge clout and can shape our future.

"It's time they used this power to invest in a future worth living in.

“Only three councils have any investments in social housing and renewable energy in Scotland despite strong returns available and many local benefits of these schemes.

"The majority of council pensions are invested in stocks and shares, which bring few tangible local benefits.

“Divesting from fossil fuels is an opportunity to contribute to a brighter future.

"That would be good news for Borders’ pension fund members and good news for all of us.

"With Scotland going to the polls for local elections in May we want to see prospective councillors getting serious about responsible investment.”

Oil, gas and coal companies are seen as financially risky by the report's authors as government action on climate change threatens their long-term viability.

But the report still found that Scottish Council Pension Funds in total have £1.7 billion invested in fossil fuel stocks and shares.

UNISON’s Scottish organiser Dave Watson commented: "Too many of our pension funds are investing in obsolete technologies and risking our members hard earned contributions.

"The future of energy is green, and it is within sight. Our pension funds need to be part of the future, not the past."

Among the fossil fuel companies that Scottish Borders Council have invested in are Glencore (£2.6m), Royal Dutch Shell (£1.7m), Apache Corp (£1.4m), EOG Resources (£1.3m) and Anadarko (£561,186)

The local authority has defended its pension investment portfolio.

A spokesman said: “At February 28 just 1.4 per cent of the Scottish Borders Council pension fund was invested in companies who have interests in fossil fuels.

“The focus on renewable energy, and the associated opportunities for investment is growing, however the wider economy is still hugely dependent on fossil fuels for employment, power and transportation.

“The primary duty of the pension fund is to build up a fund of assets to pay for future pension liabilities.

“The pension fund is continually exploring opportunities to maximise investment returns through companies who are market leaders in sustainable and renewable technologies including Tesla and Scottish and Southern Energy - 0.3 per cent of the fund is currently invested in renewables.

“The pension fund committee is currently considering its future approach to wider social, environmental and governance issues and will continue to invest in ways that maximize the benefits to our pensioners and their dependents while recognising its wider responsibilities to society and its environment."

Last month finance bosses at Newtown appointed Northern Trust to provide global custody of pension assets worth £550 million.

They will also provide accounting, accounting, performance management, cash management and foreign exchange services.

The SBC spokesman added: "The council has a finely balanced and well diversified pension fund which invests in a wide range of assets, delivering top quartile investment returns.

"We do not invest in any unethical companies.

“We have one of the best funding positions of any pension fund in the Local Government Pension Scheme and one of the lower levels of employer contributions, while also meeting the highest standards of regulation and governance.

“The Scottish Borders pension fund pays out over £18m per annum directly to Borders pensioners and their dependants, providing a massive boost to the local economy.

“Our primary responsibility is to those who currently rely on the fund for their income and those who are relying on future income in retirement.”