Young people on first climate strikes since COP26

Young people in Scotland are taking part in climate strikes from schools, colleges and universities for the first time since COP26.

They are calling for faster action on climate change as they believe little has been done since the global summit.

The demonstrations are part of more than 700 similar protests taking place around the world.

Hundreds gathered outside the Scottish Parliament in Edinburgh before marching to the city chambers.

Buses and trams were stopped to allow protesters to pass as they made their way along Princes Street.

A group gathered at Glasgow’s George Square while smaller gatherings took place across the country, including in Dumfries, Falkirk, Inverness, Stirling and Ullapool.

A new global agreement – the Glasgow Climate Pact – was reached in November following COP26 and aimed to reduce the worst impacts of climate change.

It was the first ever climate deal to explicitly plan to reduce coal, the worst fossil fuel for greenhouse gases.

The deal also presses for more urgent emission cuts and promises more money for developing countries – to help them adapt to climate impacts.

But the pledges don’t go far enough to limit temperature rise to 1.5C.

Prior to its agreement, Swedish activist Greta Thunberg told a mass rally at George Square in Glasgow that climate talks had been a “failure”.

The march was organised by Fridays for Future Scotland, a group founded by youngsters inspired by Ms Thunberg, and was one of the largest demonstrations taking place at the time.

According to protesters who gathered at the same spot on Friday, that feeling has not changed.

Climate justice activist Saoi O’Connor told the BBC: “It’s difficult to define whether or not a COP has failed because their purpose is very unclear – to us it seems like their purpose is greenwashing and making leaders look better than they’re actually doing.

“Frankly there is no COP that has achieved anything. Has COP26 brought us closer to achieving climate justice? Absolutely not.”

The 19-year-old student argued that the Fridays for Future movement had not lost momentum since COP26 – even during global events like the Ukraine conflict which has dominated headlines since February.

Saoi said: “Every single person who is responsible and alive today for the climate crisis that we’re experiencing right now was gathered in Glasgow, so of course people were out en masse in the streets at that time.

“But we’ve still got a lot of people out who are here who are very angry and are going to come out strike after strike – even when those people aren’t extremely visible.”

For 19-year-old student Anna Brown, who participated in a number of demonstrations during COP26, attending the Glasgow climate strike was an act of protest against multiple ongoing struggles.

She told the BBC: “It’s very hard not to feel hopeless at COP. Months on it really is a case of – we are still here. We are seeing so many other crises day after day – the cost of living crisis, fuel poverty.

“Young people care about all these issues and climate change is interlinked with all of them so one fight interlinks with them all.”

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