Pupils go on strike to demand action on climate change

Striking pupils from across Scotland have walked out of classes to join climate change protests.

The schoolchildren missed lessons on Friday to join demonstrations demanding action on climate change.

Pupils gathered at a demonstration outside the Scottish Parliament in Edinburgh, waving handmade placards and signs and speaking of their desire for change.

One child, six-year-old Dougie, attended the protest with his mother and sister.

Dougie said: “We’re here to do climate strike, which is something you do for your own future because the parliaments aren’t acting for us so we’re having to act on our own and it’s pretty annoying.

“We didn’t want to have to do this but we are having to do it. We want people to act for this climate because no-one’s acting.”

Asked what his message to politicians would be, he made reference to the UN’s warning that there are only 12 years to limit the effect of climate change.

“We need to act now because when I’m 18 and my sister’s 21 we can’t act any more,” he said.

Marla Gavin-Daunt, 6, and Elsie Gavin-Daunt, 8, with mum Sophie at the demonstration
Marla Gavin-Daunt, 6, and Elsie Gavin-Daunt, 8, with mum Sophie at the demonstration

The strikes were praised by First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, who wrote on Twitter: “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”.

Some pupils thought that governments should be doing more.

Portobello High School pupil Adam Ballard said of politicians: “It’s time to actually start doing stuff now.

“People talk about it but they don’t actually do anything – so please do.”

Adam Ballard, 12, and Lucas Ballard, 9, at a climate change protest outside the Scottish Parliament in Edinburgh
Adam Ballard, 12, and Lucas Ballard, 9, at a climate change protest outside the Scottish Parliament in Edinburgh

The 12-year-old explained this was the first time he had missed school for the climate strikes.

He said: “I just think it’s important that I go and campaign about stuff that matters like the climate.

“Getting cars off the road and reducing carbon emissions is important to me.

“People aren’t taking (climate change) seriously enough, and are finding Brexit much more important when actually it’s much less important.”

The UK Education Secretary Damian Hinds has warned pupils they should not miss lessons to take part in the strikes.

But Scottish Green Party education spokesman Ross Greer urged education bosses to back pupils rather than punish them.

Mr Greer 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”.

So much energy at Glasgow #YouthStrike4Climate! Everyone from primary to secondary to college and uni students plus teachers and parents here saying enough is enough 🌍💚✊ #ClimateStrikepic.twitter.com/Wxb3nHII8g

— Ross Greer (@Ross_Greer) February 15, 2019

Mr Greer 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.”