Critics of the pupils who have been walking out of school to protest over climate change have dismissed them as truants looking for an easy way to skip lessons.

Tell that to the inhabitants of the remote Marshall Islands in the Pacific Ocean whose coral atoll home is on the frontline of climate change.

In recent years, the low-lying islands, just feet above sea level, have been increasingly threatened with high tides.

As sea levels rise, bigger waves are flooding inland threatening the islands’ freshwater supplies.

Strong storms and high tides have destroyed homes and washed grave sites out to sea.

Recent droughts have also damaged the islands’ groves of coconut palms and breadfruit trees on which they depend.

Under one scenario for sea level rise some of the atolls that make up the Marshall Islands could become uninhabitable by 2050.

Four teachers and an education official from the Marshall Islands, currently attending an education conference at Edinburgh University, are deeply worried for the future and grateful to pupils across the world who want action on climate change.

Junior Paul, 38, an official from the Ministry of Education, said: “We live together as a strong community of families with our own culture, but we are facing a disaster from climate change.

“When we get peak waves and king tides the water comes across our land and into our homes. People have lost their houses to the flooding and their possessions have been destroyed.

“We are frightened that this will get worse and that in ten or twenty years time we will have great difficulty.

“Our homes and our whole way of life will disappear under the sea because of climate change.”

Mr Paul, who will attend a protest over climate change today at the Scottish Parliament, said he was delighted when he heard Scottish children were taking action.

“It is a very positive boost that we think will help our country. It is very important to us that people learn about what is happening in the Marshall Islands,” he said.

“We say thank you to the children who are protesting about global warming. Their efforts are very helpful to us.”

Social studies teacher Stanny Tomeing said without action soon the Marsall islands would not exist.

“I think the children taking action is a good approach to show the world climate change is not something that we can just talk about. It is something that we have to do something about,” he said.

“If people think these protests are just a waste of time then these are people who do not care about what is going on in the world and they do not care about what is going on in a small Pacific island like our home.

“These Scottish children care and we hope that as many people as possible will want to join these protests and we would ask that the politicians listen to the children and try to come up with some solutions that will help us.”

The plea comes as thousands of pupils are expected to take part in the latest strikes at 21 different locations across Scotland from the Orkney Islands and the Isle of Eigg to Stornaway and St Andrews.

Major demonstrations are planned outside the Scottish Parliament in Edinburgh and in Glasgow's George Square.

The Scottish protests are part of a worldwide demonstration across more than 100 countries inspired by 16-year-old Swedish environmental activist Greta Thunberg, who skipped school to raise awareness about the planet.

Her demands for the Swedish government to reduce carbon emissions gained worldwide attention.

Greta has now been nominated for a Nobel peace prize by three Norwegian MEPs. She said she was honoured by the nomination.

If she were to win, she would be the youngest recipient since Pakistan’s Malala Yousafzai, who was 17 when she received the prize.

Ross Greer, a Scottish Green MSP, said the growth of the global grassroots youth climate strike movement was “staggering”.

“Just seven months on from Greta starting her weekly protests outside the Swedish parliament there are strikes planned in over 100 countries worldwide and involving young people from every corner of Scotland,” he said.

“It’s vital politicians don’t just listen. We need decisive action to stop climate breakdown.”

Finlay Pringle, 11, from Ullapool in Wester Ross, who was the first pupil to take action in Scotland, called on more pupils to take part.

“We have to do something to save our planet now. It’s not like we can move to Mars,” he said.

Holly Gillibrand, 13, from Fort William, who was also one of the first in Scotland to go on strike from school, said: “We need more students taking part because even though the Scottish Government claims we are a world leader on climate change, we are in the worst third of countries for carbon emissions per capita.

“That is nothing to be proud of and our parliament needs as much pressure to take action as others.”

Calum Robertson, 15, from Gryffe High in East Renfrewshire, said: “Our demands are simple. The government must enact legally binding policy measures to reduce carbon emissions to net zero by 2025. Immediate action is required if we want to have any future.”