THOUSANDS of students in Scotland have joined school strikes around the world demanding that politicians take urgent action on climate change.

Young people have already taken to the streets in places including New Zealand, Australia, Japan, the Philippines, Nepal, India and European cities as part of an expected 2000 events in more than 120 countries.

In Scotland, children will be striking in 18 locations: Edinburgh, Glasgow, Fenwick, East Kilbride, Coatbridge, Stirling, Inverkeithing, Peebles, Fort William, Forres, St Andrews, Inverness, Ullapool, South Uist, Aberdeen, Aberdour, Kirkwall and Eigg. 

The strikes are driven by what students say is "an alarming lack of government leadership on climate action".

The Scottish strikes were originally started by Finlay Pringle from Ullapool and Holly Gillibrand from Fort William.

READ MORE: This is why a Scottish schoolgirl is staging weekly hour-long strikes

The global day of action has been inspired by teenager Greta Thunberg, who protests every Friday outside Sweden's parliament to urge leaders to tackle climate change.

Glasgow and Edinburgh councils have allowed students to miss school for the strike.

Edinburgh Council said pupils could go to a rally outside the Scottish Parliament, which was attended by 3000 people, as long as they had permission of parents or carers.

But SNP MSP Colin Beattie found East Lothian Council had informed schools that pupils absent due to attending these demonstrations will see their Education Maintenance Allowances (EMAs) "impacted detrimentally".

An EMA is a weekly payment of £30 paid directly to eligible young people who are continuing in post-compulsory education (i.e. beyond the age of 16) or have left school and are taking part in an Activity Agreement. 

The Midlothian North and Musselburgh MSP said: "Not only is this step mean-spirited, but it also suggests that the council don’t care about young people having a say in their future."

More than 2000 Scots gathered for a protest in Glasgow's George Square, including Ailie Brutherford who was inspired to take part to make sure "we’ve still got time to make sure the earth these young people inhabit is going to be an okay place to live in".

"I feel like more and more my children are starting to ask me about what’s going to happen when they’re older and what we can do about it and I think a lot of the time that feels very disempowering for children and actually quite worrying when they feel like there isn’t anything they can do," she told The National. 

One of the organisers of the strike, Megan Rose, said: "Glasgow is a massive city so I thought I may as well [organise a strike]. Ideally I want Glasgow City Council to see this action and declare a climate emergency. I want them to commit to having zero emissions by 2025. It's probably the best outcome I could imagine coming out of today. If they could also reform the curriculum to focus on climate change and sustainability that would be fantastic."

Green co-convener Patrick Harvie said: "The ball is now in the court of governments around the world to up their game on the climate emergency."

A poll ahead the walkouts suggested a majority of the British public support UK students who first ditched lessons and lectures for demonstrations on February 15 to call for greater climate action.

There is also significant public support for cutting the UK's greenhouse gas emissions to zero as soon as possible, with 70% saying it is important the Government takes action to do so, the survey by Opinium suggests.

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.

They also want recognition that young people have the biggest stake in the future, to be involved in policymaking, and for the voting age to be lowered to 16.

Their calls come in the wake of a UN report last year 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, and to zero by mid-century.

READ MORE: Why we must save our world for the next generation

In response to the first UK strike, Downing Street said the disruption increased teachers' workloads and wasted lesson time, and Education Secretary Damian Hinds said missing class was not the answer.

Now Conservative MPs have lined up to praise the "inspirational strikers" ahead of the latest action, highlight steps the UK has taken and pledge to do more.

In a video released ahead of today's strikes, Environment Secretary Michael Gove tells students walking out of lessons and lectures to call for urgent action on cutting emissions: "Dear school climate strikers, we agree. Collective action of the kind you're championing can make a difference, and a profound one."

However, in a Guardian article in which a panel of politicians respond to young people's calls for climate change action, the Tories refused to take part.

Nicola SturgeonJeremy Corbyn, LibDem leader Vince Cable and Siân Berry of the Green party all participated.

The UN has praised Scotland's Climate Change Act, passed in 2009, as "exemplary" but the country's young people believe we have a long way to go.

The National:

Teresa Banos, 21-year-old Glasgow University student 

I think over the past couple of weeks I haven’t been able to sleep very well thinking about the fact that I might not have a future the way that I’m planning it and knowing that climate change is going to affect my life so intensely.

The first step would be for the government to admit that it’s a bigger problem. At the moment what we’ve heard is them saying we know it is an issue and Scotland is doing more than any other country but, despite that, it’s still not enough. To see some kind of acknowledgement from the government saying we see you and we hear you would be a good starting point and, from there, conversations can go other places.

The National:

Richard Lane, Alexandra Michnowitz (centre) and Sara Cowan from the Divest Strathclyde campaign

Sara: We are here because we want Strathclyde University to divest from fossil fuels so we’ve been pushing the university for that and we want to add more visibility to this issue. I think things like this are having an effect already though. Stirling University is raising the profile of this issue and showing that this is something people need to take a stand on – especially institutions and the government. What it takes is people power and people getting together and shouting about it. That's the only way we’re going to be heard.

Richard: Most half of the universities in the UK have now said they are going to divest from fossil fuels. There's no point whatsoever in educating your students to have a good long career and then betting against them having it by trying to make some money out of fossil fuels. More government action would be welcomed because they’re not doing much at the moment. All the warning lights in the planet are blinking like mad and the government are saying ‘I’m just enjoying a nice hot cup of Brexit, I’ll be with you in a bit’.

The National:

Maddie Love, 11-year-old Glasgow school pupil 

I got involved because I care about the environment and there’s not enough being done about climate change. I think the government should take action and stop ignoring it and right now they are ignoring it.

"One of my teachers told me about the strike. Another girl in our school got a letter saying they didn’t approve of her going on strike. I think schools do support it because if children don’t know about it then the school can let them know."

The National:

Lovisa Sundin, 24-year-old Glasgow University PhD student in computing science (pictured with a friend)

I think I've been shamefully complacent about climate change until now and I realised I had taken people’s striking and demonstrations for granted. I wanted to do my part, be part of the movement and help it gain momentum.

I think that the politicians realise that just in a few years' time when all of these people get voting rights, they won’t be able to make climate change anything but the number one priority on their agenda and we won’t take any politician seriously if they don’t make it their number one issue. 

I have to thank Greta [Thunberg] from my home country whose Ted Talk I watched on my Facebook feed and it’s as simple as that. She's a very persuasive and educated person. I think her nomination for the Nobel Peace prize is well deserved, especially when Donald Trump has been nominated too!

I'm a PhD student and in academia people fly a lot so there is definitely a discussion to be had about the carbon footprint of academics. I’m trying to figure out ways of bringing that up in a very non-confrontational way that makes them feel they’re being part of the movement without being judged.