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Climate protesters interrupt first FMQs of the year

Proceedings were disrupted twice by hecklers in the gallery, who were led away by police.

FMQs: Jackson Carlaw interrupted by climate activist.
FMQs: Jackson Carlaw interrupted by climate activist.

First Minister’s Questions got off to a rowdy start in 2020 as the first session of the decade was interrupted by climate protesters.

Proceedings were disrupted twice by hecklers in the public gallery as Nicola Sturgeon faced party leaders and MSPs on Thursday.

The first intervention happened near the beginning of FMQs, as Scottish Conservative leader Jackson Carlaw rose to respond to the First Minister.

A man could be heard asking about North Sea oil and gas extraction, shouting: “Will the planet crash and burn? Will my grandchildren have a future?”

Activist group Extinction Rebellion said on social media that the protester was a former North Sea worker.

In the chamber, Carlaw responded: “As always, whilst it’s not something I encourage, I always defend the right of people to express a view if they have the opportunity to do so.”

Later in the session, presiding officer Ken Macintosh briefly suspended proceedings due to a further interruption as Scottish Greens co-leader Patrick Harvie was set to ask a question.

The activists were removed from parliament by police.

Issues around climate loomed large in the first FMQs of the year, with Harvie quizzing Sturgeon on improving public transport, while Scottish Lib Dem leader Willie Rennie grilled the FM on her government’s position on Heathrow expansion.

In the summer, Extinction Rebellion activists set up a week-long protest camp outside the Scottish Parliament demanding “radical action” to tackle the climate crisis.

The group, which became well known after large-scale civil disobedience in London, says the Scottish Government aim to become net-zero by 2045 are insufficient, calling instead for a target of 2025.

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