HUNDREDS of students and school pupils across Scotland are expected to take part in this week’s first UK-wide youth strikes, calling for governments around the world to take urgent action on climate change.

The strikes, co-ordinated by the UK Student Climate Network – in some places with the support of Extinction Rebellion groups – are planned in at least five Scottish towns and cities including Edinburgh and Glasgow, with protests planned outside Glasgow City Chambers and the Scottish Parliament. In smaller towns such as Fort William, Forres and Ullapool, striking pupils will meet outside the school gates.

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In total more than 30 locations across the UK have confirmed they are planning action to draw attention to the need for policy makers to take urgent action, with thousands expected to participate. Most are inspired by the actions of 16-year-old Swedish school girl Greta Thunberg, who decided to hold a school strike outside the Swedish Parliament building last August and has continued weekly strikes under the Fridays for Future banner.

In December a video of Greta speaking at a United Nations Climate Change conference in which she told delegate that they were “not mature enough to tell it as it is” leaving “even that burden” to children like her – went viral.

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Youth strikes have been held in countries across Europe in recent weeks and months, including several small protests in Scotland. Last Friday more than 10,000 students and school pupils marched through the streets of the Hague, chanting and holding banners.

Jake Woodier, of the UK youth climate coalition, which is helping to co-ordinate the UK-wide strike said: “There have been a few isolated strikes around the country but this is the first UK day of action with some places in Scotland seeing their first youth strike.

“It’s exciting to see that young people are grasping the sense of climate justice. Our futures are the ones that will be affected the most and yet we are the ones who have had the least voice.

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“We are expecting thousands this week, but we hope it will grow. In some countries in mainland Europe it has started with hundreds and then just ballooned.” An international day of action is also planned for March 15.

Last October a report by the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), found that there may only be 12 years in which to limit global warning to a rise of no more than 1.5C.

The rise marks the point at which the risk of irreversible changes significantly worsen along with drought, floods, extreme heat and poverty for hundreds of millions of people. The “unprecedented” and urgent changes to tackle global warming lie at the most ambitious end of the Paris Agreement on climate change, scientist have said.

Last week the UK Met Office warned global warming could temporarily hit 1.5C above pre-industrial levels for the first time between now and 2023. But climatologists stressed this worrying sign did not mean the world had broken the Paris agreement as international temperature targets are based on 30-year averages.

Scottish local authorities are already beginning to take action. Earlier this month Edinburgh City Council agreed to declare a “climate emergency” with a proposed action plan due to be presented in May.

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In Glasgow the council has set up an emergency working group, in recognition of the severity of the situation, led by Scottish Green Councillor Martha Wardrop.

Megan Rose, 20, a student who is one of the founders of Glasgow University’s Extinction Rebellion group, is one of the organisers in the city’s first youth strike this Friday. Though it is student-led, the group is also expecting secondary and primary school pupils to attend the strike.

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She said: “Like most people I have been really inspired by the action going on across Europe.

“The only thing we can really strike with is our education. In Scotland that is paid for by the Scottish Government so we hope it sends a message to them.

“I’ve been in a place of considerable fear about the situation [with climate change]. It will really affect my future. So the strike has given me a bit of hope. It makes me feel like I’m actually doing something. There’s a lot of excitement about it and I’m hopeful that this week’s strike will help us grow it.”

Tobias Walters, 19, who is studying Psychology and Sociology at Glasgow University will be joining the Glasgow student-led strike on Friday. He added: “I really feel that given the current situation we can’t not be doing something. The situation is really serious and some of the effects are already being seen around the world – freak storms and flooding and fires. It is really is a fight for survival.”

Finlay Pringle, 11, his sister Ella, 9 and their friend Megan, also 9 – all from Ullapool – believe they were the first children in Scotland to join the climate strike on December 14 last year.

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This Friday’s UK-wide strike will be the ninth one they have staged outside the gates of Ullapool Primary School. Numbers taking part may be small but they don’t think that matters.

“The important thing is that we are spreading the message along with all the other kids in the world that we need to do something about climate warming now,” Finlay told the Sunday National.

“It feels brilliant to be able to connect up with like-minded kids on Twitter and Facebook and co-ordinate our strikes. Together we are stronger, have a bigger voice which hopefully will be noticed and listened to.

“The UK is months behind school kids in Europe whose climate strikes now attract over 35,000 people. But it all started with just one girl, Greta Thunberg, so we hope that the strike will get bigger and bigger every week as the word spreads and the politicians listen and take action to stick to the Paris agreement and limit global climate warming to 1.5C.

“This will only be possible if they stop talking and take action, we hope by striking that they get on and save our planet.”

For 13-year-old Holly Gillibrand the UK-wide strike will be the sixth time she has missed Friday classes to stand outside Lochaber high school in Fort William. “I’ve been interested in the environment and in nature all my life and now the planet is in trouble,” she said. “We need to stop subsidising fossil fuels and reduce carbon emissions to zero by 2025.” The situation makes her sad and angry, she claimed.

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She hopes this Friday’s strike could mark a turning point, boosting the number of pupils willing to get involved and admitted she was excited but anxious as a result. “But I’ve had great support so far,” she added. On Friday Scottish Green MSP John Finnie joined her, teachers have been supportive and passing cars honk and wave.

Layla Clark, 15, from south Edinburgh attended last week’s protest outside Holyrood with her friend Becca, who also intends to take part on Friday, says it’s exciting to be part of.

“I think it’s a great way to show that we as young people think it’s an important issue,” she said. “Everyone should be thinking about the issue of climate change. Something needs to be done soon.”

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Like others, she said the ability to play a part in a global movement had made her feel more positive about the potential to turn things around. “Sometimes it feels quite hopeless. This feels like an opportunity to go out and do something.”

Caroline Rance, climate campaigner for Friends of the Earth Scotland, claimed climate change was “the defining issue of our time”.

She added: “It’s no surprise that young people are angry and frustrated with government’s inaction on climate change, because we’re gambling with their future.

“We are at a crossroads where we can choose to tackle the climate crisis head on, and reap the benefits of building a fairer Scotland in the process, or ignore the science and deal with the catastrophic consequences. The youth strike is an inspiring part of a growing movement, calling on governments to make the deep systemic changes needed to avert climate catastrophe.”

A Scottish Government spokesman said it was “committed to being climate leaders” and was working hard to ensure its ambitions were realised.

“We have demonstrated global leadership by setting the most ambitious statutory climate change targets of any country in the world for 2020, 2030 and 2040, which will mean Scotland is carbon-neutral by 2050,” he added.

“These targets have been described by independent, expert advisors as at the very limits of feasibility. However, we want to go further and achieve net-zero emissions for all greenhouse gases as soon as possible and have been clear that we will set a date for this as soon as it can be done credibly and responsibly.”