THE first session of First Minister's Questions in 2020 has been interrupted by climate activists.

Two interventions were made during the session, in which activists called for action to tackle environmental issues.

In the first interruption, there were shouts from the public gallery ahead of Scottish Tory leader Jackson Carlaw responding to Nicola Sturgeon.

Later in the session, Parliament was briefly suspended as Patrick Harvie was set to ask a question.

Having been interrupted by a man who made reference to plans for North Sea oil and gas, Carlaw said: "As always, whilst it's not something I encourage, I always defend the right of people to express a view if they have the opportunity to do so."

The activists were removed from the Parliament by police following their interventions.

Climate activists have taken action at the Scottish Parliament previously.

READ MORE: FMQs sketch: Climate protesters outperform the opposition

In the first demonstration, a couple tried unsuccessfully to unfurl an orange banner from a balcony in the public gallery, but the writing was upside down.

An elderly man shouted: “if the Scottish Government’s North Sea oil and gas plans go ahead as planned, and are replicated worldwide, when will our planet crash and burn?

“Will my grandchildren see that?”

Twenty minutes later, another protest took place when a younger man stood up in a different section of the public gallery.

Referring to the global climate change conference being held in Scotland later  this year, he shouted: “First Minister, my apologies for this second interruption, but Glasgow is hosting COP26 this November and there is no leadership from the Scottish Government.

“We are embarrassed to be represented by you. When will the love affair with the fossil fuel industry end?”

In a statement, Extinction Rebellion Scotland said the first protester had been Neil Rothnie, a retired former North Sea oil worker.

Neil Rothnie said: "After a lifetime of good money, and now a pension from the oil and gas industry on the North Sea, I'm aware of the irony of my seeking the planned rundown of that industry - beginning now. 

"What motivates me now is an overwhelming desire to protect my granddaughters and those with whom they'll share their lives on the planet.

"But I don't feel guilt about what I did. I was then, as oil and gas workers are today, just doing a job and keeping the lights on.

"I did what I did with the knowledge that I had at the time. 

"But we need to have a discussion about our futures and other’s presents, the future of our children, their children, the planet and the role of oil and gas in producing greenhouse gasses that threaten climate chaos.

"The plans of the industry and the UK and Scottish Governments don't square with the 'climate emergency' they claim to understand. 

"If every drop of oil and gas on the planet were to be produced and processed, life on earth would, as I understand the science, not survive.

"If the plan is 'maximum economic recovery' of the North Sea's oil and gas, why should it be any different anywhere else on the planet?

"An independent fossil fuelled Scotland? There needs to be a discussion.”

The second protester was identified only as "Eben from Edinburgh".

He said: “The Scottish Government claims that it does what's best for the people of Scotland, but its love affair with the fossil fuel industry cannot be a part of its future.

"It's not just ecocide, it's suicide, and with the COP26 in Glasgow this year, the world is looking at Scotland for leadership. I'm taking part in this disruption because with no leadership in sight and ordinary people have to take action."

Extinction Rebellion said the protest "was taken in solidarity with the Rig Rebels", three women who scaled a Shell gas rig in Dundee last week for five hours. 

It also said it had "three demands" for the Scottish Government.

"We want the government to 1. tell the truth about the fossil fuel industry’s role in driving the climate crisis. We want governments to 2. act now to stop supporting the industry, wind it up and justly transition away from it.

"And we want workers, communities and the people of Scotland to make the decisions on how this is done, in a 3. legally binding Citizens Assembly.

"No more vested interests, no more executives out for their own profit at the table, no more lobbyists or shady think tanks."

In January last year, around 40 climate activists staged a peaceful occupation of Holyrood's debating chamber, urging MSPs to introduce tougher climate targets.

In June, a group of environmental activists chained themselves to the outside of the building with bike locks, demanding "radical action" to tackle the climate crisis and sending keys for the locks to senior MSPs from each of Holyrood's parties.