COP26: Police seize campaign group’s giant inflatable Loch Ness Monster over ‘restriction breach’

The giant inflatable Nessie, which is eight metres long, was to be floated on the River Clyde as part of a COP26 protest

Police have “seized” an inflatable Loch Ness monster that anti-poverty campaigners had hoped to float on the River Clyde as finance ministers meet at COP26.

Jubilee Debt Campaign had planned to launch the inflatable on the water to highlight that there is “no climate justice without debt justice”, which it said means cancelling lower income countries’ debt and providing climate finance without creating new debt.

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The inflatable Nessie, dubbed the Loch Ness Debt Monster, is around four metres tall, eight metres long and three metres wide, and the group said it represents the growing threat of climate debt burdens for lower income countries.

However, the group said police arrived at Govan Graving Docks in Glasgow at around 7am and prevented them from moving it.

Police Scotland said the inflatable breached maritime restrictions.

Police surrounded Nessie

Eva Watkinson, of 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.”

Pictures taken by the group show police officers surrounding the monster, while campaigners held signs saying “drop the debt monster” and “climate justice now”.

Finance ministers are meeting in Glasgow on Wednesday at the SEC, which is located beside the River Clyde, following the meetings between world leaders earlier in the week.

The inflatable being driven away.

Inflatable seized as it ‘breached restrictions’

According to recent figures from Jubilee Debt Campaign, lower income countries are spending more than five times more on external debt payments than projects to protect people from the impacts of climate change.

Chris Sinckler, of the Caribbean Policy Development Centre, said: “At COP26, developed countries must accept the moral responsibility to act now to halt this looming disaster by meeting emissions targets and agreeing a comprehensive debt relief and climate finance package for small island developing states that scales up their capacity to adapt and mitigate the climate crisis while providing the fiscal space that allows for needed investments in health, education and social welfare.”

A Police Scotland spokeswoman said: “Officers seized a large inflatable due to be launched on the River Clyde as it breached the maritime restrictions in place to maintain public safety and security close to the COP26 venue.”

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