Young people were urged by the UK education secretary to go school instead of joining today’s youth climate change protest in Glasgow – despite Nicola Sturgeon’s backing for pupils to take action.
Tens of thousands of people marched from Kelvingrove Park to George Square to call for more action to be taken to tackle the climate emergency.
Campaigner Greta Thunberg was among the youngsters at the protest, which is part of the youth and public engagement day at COP26, the UN climate change conference during ongoing in Glasgow.
She was not impressed by political action.
“This is no longer a climate conference,” she said.
“This is now a global north greenwash festival, a two-week long celebration of business as usual and blah blah blah.”
Earlier, UK Education Secretary Nadhim Zahawi said young people should go to school instead of protesting.
‘Children should not be missing school’
When asked on Sky News if he supported young people missing school, Mr Zahawi said: “No – I would much rather they march on Saturday and Sunday.
“The summit is here for at least two weekends, so I would urge children not to miss school, not to miss class.
“We don’t want to get into a situation where teachers and headteachers are having to issue fines for missing education.
“I would absolutely support them to do that this weekend and the weekend after, that is the way to continue to take the message to world leaders.”
He added he would like young people to “think about their own career in science, technology and innovation” to tackle the climate crisis instead of protesting.
Sturgeon to receive youth statement
Ms Sturgeon used the youth and public engagement day to receive a global youth statement written by young people setting out the actions they want world leaders to take.
The first minister was joined by COP26 President Alok Sharma MP and UN framework convention on climate change chair Patricia Espinosa to officially receive the letter.
Ms Sturgeon said: “Young people across the globe are crying out for change.
“Today, I pledge to do what I can to deliver that change, no matter how difficult that is.
“In Scotland, we are already acting to tackle the climate emergency, but as we have heard from children and young people this week from Scotland and round the globe, it is not enough and we must do more.”
She said young people have the right to be part of the work to reverse climate change as the actions taken at COP26 will directly affect them.
Police promise safety at protests
Police Scotland said officers will deal “swiftly and robustly” with any violent disorder or damage to property during today’s protests.
Assistant Chief Constable Gary Ritchie said he was looking forward to meeting young people, and said people should not be worried by the increased police presence in Glasgow.
He said: “Officers are there to maintain the safety of the public and participants, as well as to protect the rights of people who wish to peacefully protest or to counter-protests.
“However, we have made clear that, should violent disorder or damage to property occur, those involved will be dealt with swiftly and robustly.”