Labour’s Ed Miliband surprised young protestors by joining them at the Fridays For Future march in Glasgow’s George Square.
Speaking at the rally, the shadow business and energy secretary demanded that world leaders inside COP26 act on climate change before it is too late.
He said: “Wake up to the emergency. Act this decade, not in 40 years’ time.”
Friday’s march was designed to include the next generation in the discussion on climate change and this was reflected in the ex Labour leader’s comments.
He said: “It’s really important to hear the voices of young people who want action. These negotiations are always somewhat exclusive and I think it’s important to come and hear the voices of people who aren’t inside, but have as much as a right to be heard as anyone else. And if not more of a right to be heard because young people are going to face this.”
Niamh, a 19-year-old Glasgow University student, spoke of the frustration of having older generations dominate debate.
She said: “Everyone needs to be included in this conversation and we’re not being included at all…it’s our lives. Everything we ever wanted or dreamed of happening in our lives is not possible if we don’t end this now.”
The march was organised by Fridays For Future, a youth led climate activist group that started in the wake of Greta Thunberg’s 2018 school strike. The Swedish teenager skipped school for three weeks to sit outside her country’s parliament to demand action on climate change.
Anne, who attended the march with her daughter Ruby, explained why she felt it was so important for her child to attend Friday’s protest.
She said: “It would be great to see Greta. She’s a big inspiration to both of us but it’s not just about that, it’s more important that it’s in Glasgow. [Ruby] should be in school today. It’s a big decision for me but I felt it was so important for her to be here for this cause.”
While young people were the focus of the event, a wide range of activists were in attendance.
One of those was Chris Mitchell, the GMB union representative with 20 years’ experience in social justice activism.
He was invited to address the crowd on stage by Greta Thunberg after she offered support to striking cleansing workers.
Speaking after the rally, Chris offered his perspective on the next generation of protesters.
He said: “These activists are saying ‘we want to have a future for ourselves’. It will all come together. Social justice and climate justice will go together and no one will be left behind and these youngsters in George Square are going to be the ones to make it happen.”