ALL five councils in Somerset have been targeted by Extinction Rebellion over investments in fossil fuels.

The environmental campaign group was out in force across the county on Friday (August 28) to protest investments in the industry by the councils' pension fund.

XR Taunton held protests outside County Hall and the offices of Somerset West and Taunton District Council, joined by other campaigners.

Sigurd Reimers, from Taunton, said: “I am a council pensioner, and I worry not only about the effect of climate change on my grandchildren and the contribution that my pension is having to this, but also about what is already happening to Somerset, with sea level rises and more extreme weather events causing flooding.

"Our attempts at engaging with the council over the past four years have not brought about change. Time is running out.”

In Yeovil, XR South Somerset were at South Somerset District Council, with a banner saying 'Stop Funding Fossil Fuels'.

Protests were also held outside both Mendip District Council, in Shepton Mallet, by activists from XR Wells and XR Glastonbury, and Sedgemoor District Council by XR Bridgwater.

All actions were kept deliberately small and socially distanced.

The Somerset County Council Pensions Fund Annual Report 18/19 stated: “Social, environmental and ethical concerns will not inhibit the delivery of the Fund’s investment strategy and will not impose any restrictions on the type, nature of companies/assets held within the portfolios that the Fund invests in.

"For example, the Fund will not require any form of dis-investment from fossil fuels, tobacco or such like.”

READ MORE: PICTURES: Extinction Rebellion protestors show opposition to pension fund's fossil fuel investments

The Pension Fund's 67,000 members include staff from Somerset county and district councils and 27 parish councils, as well as police, Exmoor National Park, and many further education colleges, academies, other schools and nurseries.

A quarter of its members are pensioners.

Sarah Briton, from Wells, said: “The fires in California and the melting polar ice cap reported this week are examples of the climate emergency.

"We still have time to make a difference but we need to act now. Transferring investment from fossil fuel to renewable industries is well overdue.

"Pension funds need to step up now and do the right thing for future generations.”

Bridgwater Mercury:

PROTEST: In Taunton on Friday (August 28). PICTURE: Steve Richardson

Fossil fuels include petroleum, coal and natural gas.

Their use emits greenhouse gases that cause the climate to heat up.

In 2018, the International Panel on Climate Change warned that there were only 12 years left to avert the worst effects of climate breakdown.

Fossil fuels also cause premature death from air pollution, and are used to make plastic, polyester, etc. that pollute land, waterways and oceans, the group said.

Suzanna van Moyland, from Bruton, added: "It's immoral. I wonder how young council employees feel about their pensions contributions being invested in the destruction of life on earth.

"I urge them to go to Somerset County Council Pensions Committee and demand the fund divests from fossil fuels immediately. It's their money. It's their future."