EDINBURGH City Council’s decision last week to only allow one authorised absence per year for climate strikes, did not go down well with the growing movement school activists at the heart of Scottish Youth Climate Strike, many of whom have been committed, week-after-week to striking from school on a Friday. Among them is 15-year-old Sam Boyd, who has been striking since March, and describes the move as “disappointing”. “We are determined,” he says, “to not stop until we see this issue fixed, because otherwise we are going to not have a future, and there’s nothing else we can really do. Absolutely we’re never going to stop an that’s the general feeling for most strikers.”

The decision looks set only to galvanise the Edinburgh students still further in their determination to keep on striking. As 14-year-old Kenneth MacIver, a pupil at James Gillespie’s High School puts it, “It’s not going to stop most of us coming. I will keep striking until politicians meet our demands, which is carbon net zero by 2030 and for them to put the climate crisis into the education system, into the curriculum, and convey the drastic emergency we have to the general public. I don’t want to do this, but I have to. It’s the only way I have.”

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Far from being put off, like many fellow strikers, he hopes that the next global strike, a "mass resistance" called by Greta Thunberg for September 20, which also invites adults to join the strike and back the children, will be the biggest yet.

MacIver, who has been striking since early February, would have long ago exceeded his yearly quota of authorised absences, and plans to continue to do so. Last week he protested against the council decision outside the City Chambers, taking part in a mass lie-in, right in the middle of the hubbub of the Fringe. He says that the decision doesn’t have a huge impact on him. “It won’t matter to me,” he says, “as my school is quite supportive of our strike so even when the council does advise not supporting us, they try to be as supportive as they can be within the council rules. So I doubt they’ll punish us. It’s not going to stop most of us coming.”

Whether his absence was authorised or not was not something, he says, he even thought about when he started striking. “Because this was so important to me that I don’t think I really cared if I got in trouble for it. I felt it was right to be doing this. I’d take anything that comes.”

However, he observes, that it does give some schools the mandate to clamp down on strikers, and also might put off pupils who already have attendance problems or are on Educational Maintenance Allowance. “Previously, when we haven’t had authorised absences, students have had days taken away as unauthorised, or not been able to go. So this is going to stop them from making their voices heard. It excludes them.”

Earlier this year two emergency motions by Green Party councillors had resulted in pupils being allowed to attend two individual climate emergency demonstrations with parental permission.

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Fellow striker, Sandy Boyd, echoes his frustration with the recent council decision, and determination to push still harder. “Whatever they say we’ll never stop. As much as we want their support, because it’s nice to have support, at the same time if they think this is going to stop us from striking, it’s actually never going to stop us from striking, and we’re growing stronger every day. Absolutely, it’s not going to stop us.”

He observes, “We felt that the people who were proposing that the one a year authorised day off for strike is enough seemed to think it would be enough to fix this whole issue - enough to push governments to change. I think that’s a bit short-sighted and it’s a shame they didn’t realise what an opportunity it was for the council to really show commitment to supporting this movement – supporting the fight against climate change.”

Boyd first started striking, in early March, after having seen Greta Thunberg on the news. “After that I read up on the science, I read up on the scary facts and I got scared essentially, so I started striking. It’s a shame to say but it was basically fear that drove me at the start and it was being frightened for my future - as many of us are.”

He believes the impact on his education of missing these days is often exaggerated. “I think it’s really small, even for those of us who strike every Friday, it’s still a very small impact – and often we all catch up. We help each other out with schoolwork that we miss out. It doesn’t impact us that much.”

There was, he said, a growing frustration amongst the young people, and sense of not being listened to. “I think the feeling at the moment is that a lot people are getting annoyed at the lack of progress from government. Yes, we’ve had declarations. We’ve been listened to, supposedly. But we’re still waiting for that actual action from governments. I think there is a general feeling of determination and frustration. The idea that we’re not going to stop until this gets sorted out because this getting ridiculous. It’s frustration at governments.”

The determination to strike is there, not only in secondary school age children, but also in those still at primary school. Celeste Wallace, for instance, aged ten, of Hermitage Park primary school, who earlier in the year was part of a small group of climate strikers to meet and talk with Nicola Sturgeon. She declares, "I think that decision is rubbish because we’ve been protesting almost every Friday and they’re only going to allow us one day a year, so I’m just not going to listen because we should be allowed a lot more days. I’m not going every Friday but I’m going to definitely be doing more days.”

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Boyd and MacIver are part of an extensive network of young strike-organisers, which has grand plans not only for September 20 but the whole of the week following. As MacIver puts it, “We have some quite big plans for that week. This is going to be our biggest protest yet and we’re going to have a week of action with lots of different events throughout the week. Kicking off on the 20th with a strike calling for adults to join us as well. That’s all over the world.”

What they want, says Boyd, is for the adults to show strong support. “It’s important that the grown ups unite behind the young people. It’s about time they step up their game. Across Scotland, and across the world, across the country, we’re hoping to mobilise around a million people for September 20. That is the goal that we have set. We’re calling adults and workers to join us. The plan for September 20 is basically the biggest mobilisation Scotland has ever seen. That’s the goal.”

“We need,” says MacIver, “everyone to join us in the streets on September 20. That’s adults, children, everyone.”