IT is on course to become, potentially, the biggest single climate protest the world has ever seen.

Students, workers, campaigners and those moved by their arguments were readying to take part in #GlobalClimateStrike in cities across the globe.

In towns and villages across Scotland, stretching from Ullapool to Kirkcudbright, children and adults alike are planning to join together in a mass movement demanding action over the climate emergency.

The UK Student Climate Network says more than 200 events are taking place across the UK alone.

READ MORE: Greta tells Congress 'You’re not trying hard enough'

Nicola Sturgeon has warned colleges not to impose financial penalties on students who miss classes to attend today's climate strikes.

The First Minister said it would be wrong for students to lose out on bursaries because of strict attendance requirements.

The announcement was welcomed by the National Union of Students.

Ms Sturgeon’s comments were prompted by Scottish Green MSP Ross Greer raising the issue of losing financial support at First Minister’s Questions. He said many college students planning to join millions around the world were concerned that if they took part they could lose “lifeline bursaries” as a result.

He told her: “The National Union of Students has not been able to get a straight answer from the Scottish Government or Colleges Scotland. Will the First Minister confirm today that any college student who takes part in tomorrow’s climate strike will not lose their bursary because of it?”

Ms Sturgeon replied: “I am clear that students who are engaged in legitimate, peaceful protest should not lose their bursaries for doing so.

“I am more than happy to ask the Minister for Further Education [Richard Lochhead] to correspond with Ross Greer about the detail of those assurances so that students know that they can take part in the protests without having those concerns.”

Mr Greer said the Scottish Government had initially indicated that any decision on removal of bursary would be at the discretion of individual institutions.

After Ms Sturgeon’s assurance he said: “This climate strike will be a historic moment in our struggle against this unfolding crisis. "Thousands of students in Scotland are preparing to take part and it would be entirely wrong to punish those on the lowest incomes for doing so, by taking away the bursaries they are entitled to.

"I’m glad that the First Minister has finally confirmed her position that no bursaries should be withdrawn. "Colleges across the country should take this on board and support rather than punish students taking part in this important moment of protest.

“Those in positions of powers need to do more than listen to young people tomorrow though.

"It’s not good enough to simply applaud their action, the government must meet it with ambition and a plan to create jobs, integrate public transport, reforest Scotland and give everyone a warm and secure home.”

NUS Scotland President Liam McCabe added: “We are delighted to have secured this commitment from the First Minister that no student in Scotland will lose bursary or student support as a result of participating in the climate action strikes.

"The challenges we face in this era of climate catastrophe require the full involvement of our student movement. We appreciate that this has been recognised by the Scottish Government and that students can take part in protests without fear of financial penalties.”

Worldwide, there are more than 4,600 events in 139 countries taking place as part of the Fridays for Future movement.

Campaign group says more than 70 unions, 500 organisations and 1,000 companies have come out in support of the strikes.

Here in Scotland, unions and organisations including ScottishPower, Friends of the Earth Scotland, Children 1st and the National Union of Students were among those pledging to join the protests.

Beano Studios is backing school children around the world who are taking to the streets, with an open letter promising to publish a sustainability plan to deliver the change its young audience is calling for, before Christmas.

The Co-operative Bank has teamed up with the Unite union to support its workforce to take part in the climate strikes around the country.

It is part of a global movement, inspired by teenage activist Greta Thunberg's school strikes outside the Swedish parliament, calling on politicians and business leaders to take urgent action to curb greenhouse gas emissions, and comes ahead of a climate action summit in New York convened by UN secretary general Antonio Guterres to urge countries to up their climate efforts.

Glasgow is expected to play host to similar talks at COP26 in November next year.

Activists say more action is needed by countries to bridge the gap between the measures they have already promised and what is needed to prevent temperature rises of more than 1.5C (2.7F) or 2C (3.6F) and avoid the worst impacts of climate change.

Muna Suleiman, Friends of the Earth campaigner, said most people wanted to fix the climate crisis but politicians needed to act.

She said: "Right when we need our leaders to step up, they continue to let us down.

"From filling the skies with more planes, to backing fracking in the UK and funding oil and gas projects abroad.

"That's why we're standing shoulder to shoulder with young people to call on our politicians to deliver emergency climate action now. And we're asking everyone to join us."

John Sauven, executive director of Greenpeace UK, said the school strikers have shown that people power could move governments.

"The rest of us now need to step up and stand with the children demanding radical, systemic change, before it's too late.

"While many people are nervous about the scale of economic transition we need to preserve our climate, the young understand that if we want things to stay the same, things will have to radically change."

Gudrun Cartwright, environment director, Business in the Community, a charity and the Prince's responsible business network, urged businesses "lamenting the potential impact" of the strike to trigger systemic change in the way they operate.

"Many businesses talk the talk when it comes to climate change but only a small percentage walk the walk.

READ MORE: The full list of climate strikes taking place across Scotland

"The time for talking is over. Our planetary crises will not be solved unless businesses do their bit and use their scale and reach to drive change."

Rev Dr Richard Frazer, convener of the Church and Society Council, said listening and learning would help leaders respond more effectively to the climate emergency that is tightening its grip on the world.

Dr Frazer said: “Climate change will change the lives of children growing up today and they will experience profoundly the impact in decades to come.

“It now casts a long shadow over their lives and they have responded to the inspiring example of the Swedish schoolgirl Greta Thunberg and want to be heard.

“We are mindful of the many arguments for and against schoolchildren ‘striking’ and appreciate the strong feelings this evokes.

“Rather than taking a stand for or against climate strikes, we urge churches and congregations to listen to children in their communities.

“Churches can provide a safe space in which to listen to their concerns and aspirations.

“By listening we can learn and understand better and this will in turn will help us respond more effectively to the climate emergency.”

Matt Noble, 32, software developer and XR Scotland activist, said: "Scotland is in the unique position of having a large legacy oil and gas industry at the same time as having massive renewable energy potential. This gives us the opportunity to show the rest of the world how a just transition can be carried out from the old technology to the new.

"The incredible scale of the school strike movement, started just over a year ago by a solitary Swedish teenager, demonstrates how powerful a single example can be.

"We should not underestimate Scotland's ability to shape the global response to the climate crisis."

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, who will be addressing a rally of climate strikers outside Parliament on Friday, has taken to Twitter to back the children going on strike, saying they "are leading the way and I'll be proud to join them tomorrow".

The TUC Congress has voted to call for "workday campaign action" to coincide with the global action, with workers encouraged to take 30 minutes of action during the day.

The University and College Union (UCU) is encouraging its members to take part in the global day of action and has written to the national representatives of universities and colleges asking them to allow staff to take part.

General secretary Jo Grady said: "The trade union movement is fully behind the global action against the climate crisis; our planet's future is at risk and now is the time for bold action."

Some businesses are actively supporting their workers to take action, with outdoor clothing company Patagonia closing stores and offices globally, and taking out adverts to support the strikers.

In Manchester last, Patagonia was hosting a sign-making workshop to help equip strikers who will walk out of the city's store at 10am to join the strike at Manchester Central Library.

Staff from galleries and venues including the National Theatre will take to the streets, joining children and students for what is being billed as the world's largest climate strike.

Youngsters are taking part in more than 150 demonstrations from Cornwall to Scotland and are urging people to join them to push for action to transform the economy to zero carbon.

Staff from the Tate Modern, Tate Britain and Southbank Centre have also said they will walk out and join the Global Climate Strike in London on Friday.

Oscar-winner Sir Mark Rylance, Shameless star David Threlfall and Year Of The Rabbit's Freddie Fox have called on the National Theatre to back the move.

Their petition has so far been signed by 72 staff.

Sir Mark is a vocal advocate for action against climate change. In June, he quit the Royal Shakespeare Company, objecting to its receipt of funding from oil company BP, which he has accused of obscuring its damaging environmental impact by supporting arts organisations.

Artists and actors will leave their workplaces at 10.30am and converge on Westminster Bridge where they will meet the striking cleaners from the Department of Business before marching on Central London.

National Theatre staff member Katherine Hearst said: "National Theatre staff will be staging a solidarity action with the climate strikers, to initiate a dialogue with management in which we will be demanding more agency in our workplace and a say in how the theatre can contribute to the climate movement.

"The insecurity of our contracts is a barrier to many of us participating in the climate movement in our workplace.

"This will be the beginning of a discussion in which we will push for our theatre to divest from big oil sponsorship and sign the Culture Declares Emergency declaration."

Gareth Spencer, secretary of the Southbank Centre's branch of the Public and Commercial Services Union (PCS), said: "In May 2019, PCS Conference declared a 'climate emergency', following motions from the PCS Liverpool Museums Branch.

"The union is calling on all its members' employers to declare climate emergency - a commitment to become carbon neutral by 2030, to refuse to accept fossil fuel sponsorship, to run green forums, and promote the role of Green Reps in the workplace.

"Our Tate branch's demands were accepted by management there; PCS Southbank Centre and PCS British Museum branches have submitted similar demands."

Worldwide, campaigners say there are more than 3,400 events planned in 120 countries, with numbers taking part expected to surpass the estimated 1.6 million people who took to the streets for a global climate strike in March.