CLIMATE Change protesters have twice disrupted First Minister Questions and attacked Nicola Sturgeon’s support for the fossil fuel industry.

It coincided with the Liberal Democrats criticising the Scottish Government’s continued support for the expansion of Heathrow airport and greater use of aviation. 

Extinction Rebellion Scotland said it had been behind both protests.

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In the first demonstration, a couple tried unsuccessfully to unfurl an orange banner from a balcony in the public gallery, but the writing was upside down.

An elderly man shouted: “if the Scottish Government’s North Sea oil and gas plans go ahead as planned, and are replicated worldwide, when will our planet crash and burn?

“Will my grandchildren see that?”

The man and a younger woman were then removed by the police.

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Twenty minutes later, another protest took place when a younger man stood up in a different section of the public gallery.

Referring to the global climate change conference being held in Scotland later  this year, he shouted: “First Minister, my apologies for this second interruption, but Glasgow is hosting COP26 this November and there is no leadership from the Scottish Government.

“We are embarrassed to be represented by you. When will the love affair with the fossil fuel industry end?”

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Presiding Officer Ken Macintosh briefly suspended proceedings and the Scottish Parliament’s broadcasting unit cut off the sound of the protests to the viewing public.

Scottish LibDem leader Willie Rennie later grilled Ms Sturgeon over the SNP Government’s continued backing for Heathrow expansion, despite her promising to review it eight months ago.

Mr Rennie raised the Scottish Government’s memorandum of understanding between the Scottish Government and Heathrow airport, which supports “40 new long-haul flights, the growth of domestic flights and a £10 discount for every domestic passenger for 20 years”.

He said: “It is a plan for the expansion of the airline industry, and it is fully endorsed by this Scottish Government. 

“Last May, the First Minister promised me that she would review the Scottish Government’s support for Heathrow’s expansion following the recommendations of the United Kingdom Committee on Climate Change. What was the outcome of that review?”

Ms Sturgeon replied: “Across the Government, we are still reviewing policies as part of the process of updating the climate change action plan. 

“When we set out our plan across aviation and a range of the Government’s responsibilities, we will set out what we need to do differently.”

She said SNP MPs did not vote for Heathrow expansion in the Commons.

But she added: “As a Scottish Government, we are not in control of the decision about a third runway at Heathrow, but if it is going ahead, then Scotland should seek to maximise the economic impact and benefit of it.”

Mr Rennie said: “This is months on, First Minister. Is the Scottish Government still reviewing the case for support for Heathrow expansion? 

“This is urgent - it is a crisis right now. If her MPs have not supported it at Westminster, why is the First Minister still supporting Heathrow expansion here in Scotland? 

“Climate change has brought Zambia to the brink of famine. Australia has been burning since September. The ice caps continue to melt. Yet the First Minister continues to support Heathrow expansion. 

“When COP26 delegates come to Glasgow, will the First Minister be able to look them in the eye and say that she is doing everything that she can on climate change?”

Ms Sturgeon said “Yes” and reminded Mr Rennie his party opposed the anti-congestion workplace parking levy.

In a statement, Extinction Rebellion Scotland said the first protester had been Neil Rothnie, a retired former North Sea oil worker.

Neil Rothnie said: "After a lifetime of good money, and now a pension from the oil and gas industry on the North Sea, I'm aware of the irony of my seeking the planned rundown of that industry - beginning now. 

"What motivates me now is an overwhelming desire to protect my granddaughters and those with whom they'll share their lives on the planet.

"But I don't feel guilt about what I did. I was then, as oil and gas workers are today, just doing a job and keeping the lights on.

"I did what I did with the knowledge that I had at the time. 

"But we need to have a discussion about our futures and other’s presents, the future of our children, their children, the planet and the role of oil and gas in producing greenhouse gasses that threaten climate chaos.

"The plans of the industry and the UK and Scottish Governments don't square with the 'climate emergency' they claim to understand. 

"If every drop of oil and gas on the planet were to be produced and processed, life on earth would, as I understand the science, not survive.

"If the plan is 'maximum economic recovery' of the North Sea's oil and gas, why should it be any different anywhere else on the planet?

"An independent fossil fuelled Scotland? There needs to be a discussion.”

The second protester was identified only as "Eben from Edinburgh".

He said: “The Scottish Government claims that it does what's best for the people of Scotland, but its love affair with the fossil fuel industry cannot be a part of its future.

"It's not just ecocide, it's suicide, and with the COP26 in Glasgow this year, the world is looking at Scotland for leadership. I'm taking part in this disruption because with no leadership in sight and ordinary people have to take action."

Extinction Rebellion said the protest "was taken in solidarity with the Rig Rebels", three women who scaled a Shell gas rig in Dundee last week for five hours. 

It also said it had "three demands" for the Scottish Government.

"We want the government to 1. tell the truth about the fossil fuel industry’s role in driving the climate crisis. We want governments to 2. act now to stop supporting the industry, wind it up and justly transition away from it.

"And we want workers, communities and the people of Scotland to make the decisions on how this is done, in a 3. legally binding Citizens Assembly.

"No more vested interests, no more executives out for their own profit at the table, no more lobbyists or shady think tanks."

Responding to the protests, the First Minister’s official spokesman said the Scottish Government was taking “genuine, world-leading action on the climate change agenda”. 

He said: “None of these issues are easy to deal with, but as the First Minister laid out in the chamber we are taking all the reasonable action we can.

“Generally, there is a wide recognition we are taking a leadership role in this.”

Asked about the Government’s support for extracting more oil and gas from the North Sea, he said: “The First Minister has made the point previously that if you were to shut down the UK and Scottis sector of the North Sea overnight, you would potentially be increasing carbon emissions because you would be relying on importing resources which would have a knock-on effect, which would increase the carbon footprint.

“That’s the basis on which we continue the policy.”

Mr Rennie added: "The SNP should immediately abandon its support for a massive Heathrow expansion. It is already the biggest single biggest emitter of climate emissions in the UK.

“SNP MPs abstained on the Heathrow vote in Westminster because they weren’t being guaranteed enough benefits, not because they were worried about the climate. The Scottish Government’s support is still there in black and white in a contract with Heathrow. 

“I’m astonished that after eight months of reviewing the policy the First Minister hasn’t yet come to the conclusion that more emissions would be bad for the environment. There’s a glaring gap between her words and her actions on the climate emergency.”

It is understood the protesters entered using general public tickets.

A Scottish Parliament spokesperson said: “First Minister’s Questions was disrupted briefly by disturbance in the public gallery. Parliamentary business was suspended for less than a minute while a small number of protesters were escorted from the public gallery.”