Thousands of schoolchildren across the UK have walked out of class to take a stand against climate change.
Youth Strike 4 Climate movement organisers said strikes are taking place in 60 towns and cities, with youngsters carrying banners bearing slogans saying: “There is no planet B”.
Other signs, demanding action on the environment, read: “When did the children become the adults?” and “Why should I clean my room when the world is in such a mess”.
Hundreds of young people gathered in Glasgow’s George Square to make their voices heard, and there was also a demonstration outside the Scottish Parliament.
The action was supported by First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, who tweeted: “It’s a cause for optimism, in an often dark world, that young people are taking a stand on climate change.”
While she said the Scottish Government was a “world leader” in acting against climate change, the urgency of the issue meant “it is right that we are all challenged to do more and that we hear the voice of the next generation”.
Scottish Green Party education spokesman Ross Greer urged education bosses to back pupils who are taking part in the protests rather than punish them.
He said: “I commend every young person in Scotland and across the world who is joining this growing movement and speaking out against this existential threat to their future.”
He stressed the Curriculum for Excellence system in Scottish schools “is based on the idea that we support our young people to become responsible citizens”.
Mr Greer, who spoke this afternoon in George Square, added: “Every school student who takes action against the climate crisis on Friday is doing exactly that.
“They should know that they will not be punished for defending their own future.
“They have the Scottish Greens’ support and I hope they will have the support of their teachers and education authorities.”
Incredible day protesting in George Square. It’s a Climate Crisis and we need to take action 🌳 pic.twitter.com/wdBbQVMEVc
— Dylan Hamilton (@DylanHamilton04) February 15, 2019
There’s protests happening up and down the country, including in #Edinburgh, #Glasgow, #Ullapool, and #FortWilliam. Tweet us your pics, @FinlayPringle, @HollyWildChild & @laurenmcglynn! 🌎 pic.twitter.com/xkZrvpWMh9
— Friends of the Earth Scotland 🌎 (@FoEScot) February 15, 2019
Protesters down south took the cause to Westminster, descending on Parliament Square to demand change.
Dressed in their school uniforms, some broke into chants of “Save our planet” and “Now, climate justice”.
Some young people at the protest boarded an open top city tour bus, climbed to the top deck, bringing roads in the area to a standstill.
Hundreds of pupils, holding signs, chanted “We’re not moving” as they blocked traffic from moving.
Alexandar Gyurov, 17, said he was at the protests in Parliament Square to “raise awareness for climate change and get a bit of a ‘move on’ in terms of getting governments to change their ways of acting and going with a greener approach to things”.
He added: “I think it’s important to raise awareness about this problem and to put pressure on the Government and the people to take action now.”
Nico, 13, said that protesting about climate change was not a “chance to bunk off school”, but a push for a better future.
“It’s our future and people in our generation should be fighting (for) what we’re going to be living through.”
She added the Government “isn’t really prioritising the environment” and that it is “much more important than anything that’s going on now”.
The pupil has already made protecting the environment her priority, having petitioned her school to remove the use of disposable cutlery from its canteen.
She said: “We started a petition at our school to get rid of the plastic cutlery because we think it’s so unnecessary and it’s bad for the environment.
“We’re hoping that the Government will become more aware of it and start making a change.”
Former UN climate chief Christiana Figueres voiced her support for the cause, saying the action was “moving”.
She said: “It’s time to heed the deeply moving voice of youth and schoolchildren, who are so worried about their future that they need to strike to make us pay attention.
“It is a sign that we are failing in our responsibility to protect them from the worsening impacts of climate change.”
John Sauven, executive director of Greenpeace UK, said: “Young people know that their lives are going to be changed dramatically by the impacts of climate change.
“The risks that older people hope they might dodge are the problems the young will inherit.
“And the longer the young wait for action to be taken, the harder it will be for them in future.”
However, the strikes were not welcomed by school leaders and Education Secretary Damian Hinds, who said missing class was not the answer.
Mr Hinds said: “I want young people to be engaged in key issues affecting them and involving themselves in causes they care about.
“But let me be clear, missing class won’t do a thing to help the environment; all they will do is create extra work for teachers.”
The movement has already seen school strikes in Australia and European countries including Belgium, and was inspired by teenager Greta Thunberg, who protests every Friday outside Sweden’s parliament to urge leaders to tackle climate change.
The strikes come in the wake of a UN report which warned that limiting global temperature rises to 1.5C above pre-industrial levels, beyond which climate impacts become increasingly severe, requires unprecedented action.
That includes cutting global carbon dioxide emissions by almost half within 12 years.
Students in the UK are demanding the Government declare a climate emergency and take active steps to tackle the problem, communicate the severity of the ecological crisis to the public and reform the curriculum to make it an educational priority.
Anna Taylor, of UK Student Climate Network, said: “We’re running out of time for meaningful change, and that’s why we’re seeing young people around the world rising up to hold their governments to account on their dismal climate records.
“Unless we take positive action, the future’s looking bleak for those of us that have grown up in an era defined by climate change.”