Thousands skip lessons to take part in climate protests spread across Scotland

Thousands of Scottish school pupils and university students skipped lessons and lectures yesterday to take part in a growing worldwide movement for action on climate change.

It was estimated around 1,800 people took part in the Edinburgh demonstration outside the Scottish Parliament. Picture: Ian Rutherford
It was estimated around 1,800 people took part in the Edinburgh demonstration outside the Scottish Parliament. Picture: Ian Rutherford

Demonstrations were held in 18 locations around the country as well as in other parts of the UK and almost 100 other countries, as young people took to the streets to demand progress.

The global day of action grew out of a movement started by 15-year-old Swede Greta Thunberg, who first skipped school to sit outside government buildings in September.

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A similar protest was held a month ago, with demonstrators saying they feel ignored by governments and corporations despite their futures being at stake if climate change continues.

Edinburgh City Council estimated around 1,800 people took part in the demonstration outside the Scottish Parliament.

A further 1,000 people gathered in Glasgow’s George Square.

One of the organisers of the protest in the Scottish capital said he had been “blown away” by the “amazing” turnout. “We were not expecting these numbers,” he said.

Almost a third of Scotland’s councils have committed not to punish pupils who skipped school to take part in the demonstrations, as long as they were given permission by their parents. Protests were also held in Aberdeen, Inverness, St Andrews, East Kilbride, Coatbridge, Stirling, Inverkeithing, Peebles, Fort William, Forres, Ullapool, South Uist, Kirkwall and Eigg.

Heather O’Connor, 20, a theology and English literature student at the University of Glasgow, skipped lectures to take part in the protest in the city with her friends.

“Our politicians are too caught up in Brexit to listen to the scientists,” she said.

“Scientists are telling us that we’re nearing our Earth’s tipping point, but politicians quite frankly don’t care and they’re playing with our futures.

“It’s time to say enough is enough. To be honest, enough was long ago. We’re scared.

“I think young people today are never going to trust the system like we did. We were brought up to respect the system and respect our elders, but meanwhile our futures have been put down the drain.”

Schoolgirl Holly Gillibrand, 13, has been taking part in “climate strikes” in Fort William for weeks.

“I’m not the sort of person who would consider breaking the rules in any way,” she said.

“But if we don’t strike and demand that our leaders take action, we’re not going to have a habitable planet to live on in the future.”

More than 1,300 separate protests were set up by pupils and students from 98 countries yesterday, including the United States, Brazil and Iran.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon described the demonstrations as “inspiring”.