COP26: Police seize Loch Ness monster ahead of protest

Glasgow police seized an inflatable Loch Ness Monster this morning, ahead of a planned protest.

The initiative was being organised by anti-poverty group, Jubilee Debt Campaign, ahead of finance day at COP26, to highlight that there is no climate justice without debt justice, which means cancelling lower income countries’ debt and providing climate finance without creating new debt.

Why was Nessie protesting?

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The inflatable ‘Nessie’ - dubbed the ‘Loch Ness Debt Monster’ - is approximately four metres tall, eight metres long and three metres wide, and represents the growing threat of climate debt burdens for lower income countries, who have been prevented from discussing how debt is sabotaging their climate response at COP26.

What do the campaigners say?

Eva Watkinson, head of campaigns at Jubilee Debt Campaign said: “The debt crisis facing lower income countries has been excluded from debate at COP26 and now police have prevented the ‘Loch Ness Debt Monster’ from highlighting this fundamental issue. Lower income countries’ unsustainable debt is preventing them from fighting the climate crisis.

“And when climate disasters hit, countries are pushed into further debt to pay for reconstruction. Rich polluting countries created the climate crisis and should take responsibility by cancelling the debts of countries that need it and ensuring climate finance is given in grants, not more loans.”

According to recent figures from Jubilee Debt Campaign, lower income countries are spending over five times more on external debt payments than projects to protect people from the impacts of climate change. In 2020 alone, lower income countries spent $372 billion on servicing debt repayments.

What do the campaigners want?

Campaigners are calling for systemic change to climate finance and are asking leaders to give climate finance as grants, not loans; cancel the debts of all countries that need it and make sure it doesn’t build up in the future; set up a fund for climate loss and damage, and when disaster hits, automatically suspend debts.