Thousands of pupils strike in demand for action on climate change

By Lewis McKenzie, Political Reporter, Press Association Scotland

Thousands of schoolchildren across Scotland have taken part in another day of strikes to demand urgent action to tackle climate change.

Events were held at locations including outside the Scottish Parliament in Edinburgh and at George Square in Glasgow.

Protests were also held in towns and cities across the country including Aberdeen, Fort William, Skelmorlie, Aboyne, Fort William, Peebles, Nairn, Stirling and Ullapool.

Scottish Greens co-convener Patrick Harvie told crowds in George Square, Glasgow, that it is vital they keep up the pressure on Governments and decision-makers.

“There’s huge sense of optimism right now, inspired by this global movement, that we can finally deliver the decisive action to reduce emissions we should have had years ago when Scotland first passed climate legislation,” he said.

“But we need to resist the instinct from corporations and others who’ve created the crisis to shift responsibility for change back onto individual lifestyles.

“We need full system-level change and we need it urgently. That’s why this movement is so vital and why it must keep going.”

Protesters march on the Scottish Parliament (Jane Barlow/PA)

Ahead of the demonstrations, Holly Gillibrand, 13, from Fort William said: “I am too young to vote and we can’t wait for people my age to come into power.

“That’s why we need to strike to make our voices heard.”

Neelu Saraswatibhatla, 17, from Edinburgh, said: “Business as usual will result in climate destruction and disruption is necessary in order to force governments to take urgent action as the alternative is death.”

Evie Hylands, 15, from Glasgow, said: “This protest symbolises something greater than just a strike.

“It gives a perfect depiction of the anger of the youth, who will be most affected by the fall of mother nature, yet we always seem to be the ones whose opinions are disregarded.

“The youth is now speaking up now so hear us out. We want to save our planet.”

Thousands of people took to streets across Scotland (Jane Barlow/PA)

At the SNP conference last month, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon declared a “climate emergency”, noting she had been inspired by demonstrating pupils.

She told her party’s conference: “I met some of the young climate change campaigners who’ve gone on strike from school to raise awareness of their cause.

“They want governments around the world to declare a climate emergency. They say that’s what the science tells us. And they are right.

“So today, as First Minister of Scotland, I am declaring that there is a climate emergency. And Scotland will live up to our responsibility to tackle it.”

Pupils have been inspired by Swedish schoolgirl Greta Thunberg (Jane Barlow/PA)

Earlier this month, the Scottish Government also agreed to set a target of net-zero emissions by 2045 – an aim described by experts as the “most ambitious in the world”.

It followed recommendations set out by the Committee on Climate Change (CCC) that Scotland meet the target five years ahead of the UK in 2050.

Glasgow and Edinburgh have also both outlined their aims to cut greenhouse emissions and to become the UK’s first “net zero” city.

The climate strikes by pupils were started in August 2018 by the Swedish schoolgirl Greta Thunberg and have since been mirrored across the world.