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Climate strike: Schoolchildren protest over climate change,”:

Schoolchildren across the UK have gone on strike as part of a global campaign calling for action over climate change.

Students around the country walked out of school to call on the government to declare a climate emergency and take active steps to tackle the problem.

“Save our planet” was the message chanted by thousands of people gathered in Parliament Square in London.

Organisers Youth Strike 4 Climate said protests were taking place in more than 60 towns and cities across the UK.

The action is part of a much wider global movement, known as Schools 4 Climate Action.

It began with 15-year-old Swede Greta Thunberg skipping class to sit outside government buildings in September, accusing her country of not following the Paris Climate Agreement.

Since then, tens of thousands of children across Belgium, Germany, Sweden, Switzerland and Australia have been inspired to hold their own demonstrations.

A Downing Street spokeswoman said that while it was important for young people to engage with issues like climate change, the disruption to planned lesson time was damaging for pupils.

However, energy minister Claire Perry said she was “incredibly proud” of young people’s passion and concern.

She told the BBC: “I suspect if this was happening 40 years ago, I would be out there too.”

Lola and Christina in Parliament Square
Christina (right) says she’s worried for her future

In London, 15-year-old Christina, from London, said the issue was too big to ignore.

“A lot of us are very good, obedient students but when it comes to climate change, it’s really important,” she says.

“The youth of our time tend to get pushed to one side. We often stay quiet but when it comes to climate change we are going to have to pay for the older generation’s mistakes.

“It really scares me.”

Scarlet at protest in London
Scarlet, one of the organisers, says they will keep making noise until they are heard

Part of the UK Student Climate Network, 15-year-old Scarlet, from Suffolk, says the group has a detailed list of demands.

“We want the UK government to declare a climate emergency and make moves to achieve climate justice, prioritising this above all else,” she told BBC News.

“We’re demanding the government listen to us and we will continue to make a noise until they do so.

“It can’t be about behaviour change any more; it has to be about system change.”

Scarlet says she has been vegetarian since she was six, wears second-hand clothes and avoids plastic bags; she also carries a reusable straw.

Hannah Jane at protest in London
Eleven-year-old Hannah Jane’s mum wrote a letter to the head teacher asking for her permission to give her daughter the day off
Banners in Parliament Square
Banners filled London’s Parliament Square
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At the scene

By BBC education reporter Judith Burns

Protestors sitting down in the road
Some of those involved staged a sit-down protest

Teenagers brandishing brightly-coloured posters packed Parliament Square chanting “save our planet”.

Many were keen to point out it is their generation who will be left to pick up the pieces of our civilisation’s waste and pollution.

They don’t feel the government is listening to scientists’ warnings on climate change. Without a vote, protests like this one are their only option, they say.

Some climbed onto statues but were quickly ordered down by police.

The organisers had planned a revision session to show the protestors take their education seriously but instead, shortly after noon, some of the teenagers, sat down on a crossing, blocking traffic.

Again they moved on quickly, but took an unplanned walk up Whitehall. Most of the protesters left the square and marched to Downing Street.

The protest is good-humoured, but the organisers’ plans have been abandoned.

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Hundreds of young protesters chanted for climate justice in Cambridge, carrying banners with slogans including ‘There is no planet B’ and ‘When did the children become the adults’.

Ten-year-old Zachary, who attended with his mother, said he thought climate change was more important than lessons.

He said: “People just have to change their ways as we don’t want the world as it is right now.

“We just want to make people aware of it. We were talking about it in our class, so we just came along.”

Protesters at a Youth Strike 4 Climate demonstration outside Shire Hall in Cambridge
Students in Cambridge gathered outside the Cambridgeshire County Council’s offices
Brighton
Students marched down the streets of Brighton
Ivy in Sheffield
Ivy, 9, is home-schooled; she received permission from her mother to join the protest in Sheffield

In Wales, hundreds of primary and secondary school pupils descended on the Welsh Assembly in Cardiff Bay.

Protest outside the National Assembly for Wales

Meanwhile in the Scottish Highlands, pupils staged hour-long walkouts outside their school gates.