By Stephen Breslin

LAST month, thousands of school children took to streets across Scotland urging responsibility and action to stop climate change. The Fridays for Future Scotland movement said decision makers were “sitting back” and “exacerbating the climate crisis”.

Reading their protest signs, I felt huge hope and pride in our young people, grasping the power they possess to capture the media’s attention and hold decision makers accountable. Their messages are clear: "the planet is burning" and "government must act now to protect our future".

The marches show young people aren’t just victims of climate change; they’re important champions of climate action. We must provide equal opportunities for young people to develop skills to interpret the science and evidence behind the headlines. This is key to empowering young people to be agents of change, with the ability to imagine a better future.

The COP26 climate conference hosted in Glasgow last November was an extraordinary opportunity to set a path towards a more sustainable future. However, negotiations didn’t secure big enough cuts in global greenhouse gas emissions to prevent continued dramatic changes to our climate. The most recently-published IPCC report highlighted that "human-induced climate change is causing dangerous and widespread disruption in nature and affecting the lives of billions of people around the world". Despite this evidence, climate change and action has been at risk of falling off the agenda post-COP26.

At Glasgow Science Centre we’re committed to ensuring a positive legacy to COP26 and part of that is ensuring the most at-risk communities have a voice in the climate conversation. The impacts of climate change aren’t fairly distributed, in a global sense or closer to home. Living a greener life isn’t always straightforward. Healthier food choices can be more expensive, rural communities rely more on cars and disabled people face mobility issues in our cities. The rising cost of living, energy and fuel crisis – compounded by climate change – is hitting the pockets of people in rural areas and the most challenged and deprived disproportionately.

We used the conference as a springboard to inform, inspire and empower people to tackle the climate crisis. We’ve reached more than three million people across Scotland with our climate programme Our World, Our Impact. This includes schools, families and communities in and around Glasgow and beyond.

We’ve worked to become a magnet for climate engagement, connecting learners to partners, including uniting all of Scotland’s Science Centres in one National Climate Campaign. Working together, we’ve facilitated free workshops and climate science activities for rural areas and those with digital accessibility barriers. We’re removing barriers and enabling people of all ages and backgrounds to make connections between climate science and their day-to-day lives. Our commitment to this is reliant on continued funding for public engagement.

At Glasgow Science Centre, our team of educators help learners develop science skills to understand and make positive changes in their communities. We must continue to build skills, resources and resilience, to enable them to march, protest and continue to demand the best future for Scotland and the planet.

Stephen Breslin is CEO of Glasgow Science Centre