COP28: outcomes, achievements, and costs

Outcomes, achievements, and costs associated with the Scottish Government’s presence at the 2023 COP28 (climate change) event.


The Scottish Government had key objectives for COP28 and achieved against each. The objectives were:

  • leadership on loss and damage building momentum towards increased global action on and urgent funding for loss and damage
  • co-Chairmanship of the Under2 Coalition supports increased ambition and action towards net zero, a just transition, and resilience by both party and Non-Party States and Governments (NPSG)
  • commitment to low carbon energy under a Just Transition to Net Zero, in particular around offshore wind and hydrogen, influences others to do more to achieve Net Zero
  • building and maintaining both diplomatic and economic international relations to attract investment in strategic sectors in Scotland and enhance Scotland’s global reputation, particularly on renewable energy
  • on Climate Justice, we continued our work building momentum on adequate funding to address loss and damage. Scotland was the first Global North country to commit funding (£2 million) to addressing loss and damage at COP26. This was followed by subsequent announcements at COP27 (£5 million), New York Climate Week 2023 (£1 million), and a further £2 million at COP28. Through this Scotland, working with our partners in the Global South, has helped keep the spotlight firmly on the issue over the last two years
  • at COP28, we helped maintain the focus on the most vulnerable communities most in need of funding to address loss and damage. The First Minister, Cabinet Secretary and Scottish Government officials used their private meetings and speaking opportunities to emphasise the need to ensure that funding to address loss and damage reaches vulnerable communities and does not increase indebtedness. Consistent with this, at two events at the Scottish Pavilion, the First Minister announced new Scottish Government funding from the Climate Justice Fund to directly support communities address loss and damage, via grants in partnership with C40 and GiveDirectly. Both announcements were welcomed by activists and governments as examples of Scottish Government taking swift practical action. Minister Michael Usi, Minister of Natural Resources and Climate Change of Malawi commended the funding, noting that “the money is going directly to the beneficiaries… it’s going to reach the people on the ground.”
  • we continued to play a bridging role, with both ministers and officials using speaking opportunities to champion the rights of those impacted climate change, in particular women, young people, and the Global South. Both the First Minister and Cabinet Secretary met with civil society partners from the Global South and youth activists to hear first-hand how they were being impacted; using our events to platform their voices and call for equitable operationalizing of the UN Loss and Damage Fund. This meant many Scottish Government events were more inclusive and grounded in the reality of living with the climate crises
  • on using our co-chairmanship of the Under2 Coalition to support increased climate ambition and action, the First Minister participated in the first Local Climate Action Summit (LCAS). The LCAS was put on by the COP Presidency and Bloomberg Philanthropies, and follows on from engagements centred around realising the potential of non-party governments that Scotland, at Climate Week NYC 2023 and COP27, has played a key role in. The First Minister articulated the need for governments at all levels to continue to be ambitious and lead by example, with the meeting concluding with agreement that further work on this will take place with the Under2 secretariat
  • both the First Minister and the Cabinet Secretary participated in panel discussions at the Under2 Coalition General Assembly, setting out Scotland’s progress, how we are tackling challenges as we move towards net zero, and emphasising the importance of empowering non-party governments to achieve all they can in tackling climate change
  • Scottish Government officials used COP to strengthen networks with international stakeholders with whom we collaborate on climate change, including both members and secretariats of the sub-national coalitions (Under2 and Regions4) of which Scotland is part
  • on Just Transition to Net Zero, Scotland’s advanced renewables industries was a key topic of conversation when the First Minister met with representatives from other governments. In a bilateral meeting with the Prime Minister of Barbados Mia Amor Mottley, it was agreed that the two governments will explore a practical partnership on renewable energy, with a specific emphasis on offshore wind
  • similarly, in the First Minister’s meeting with Agnés Pannier – Runacher, France’s Minister for Energy Transition, it was agreed that French delegations visiting Scotland should visit sites and be shown the potential of renewable energy transition, and that the two governments will liaise as France develops its hydrogen strategy
  • capitalising on the opportunity presented at COPs to engage with a diversity of parties, the Cabinet Secretary represented the Local Government and Municipal Authority (LGMA) constituency at an official UNFCCC Open Dialogue Session. With Party representatives, including those from the host country UAE and from China – she called for the need to accelerate a just transition from fossil fuels in a just and equitable way
  • officials also provided remarks reflecting Scotland’s experience and expertise in renewables at an event to reflect on progress made on the Power Breakthrough agenda launched at COP26. This event, with senior business leaders and policy makers, focused on furthering renewables, supply chains, grid, and finance to achieve 2030 targets
  • on international relations/partnerships, the First Minister attended the World Leaders Summit, the first time a Scottish First Minister has attended such an event at a COP. This allowed the First Minister to have engagements with other world leaders including the Prime Minister of Lebanon, acting Prime Minister of Pakistan, President of Kenya. The First Minister and Cabinet Secretary also held meetings with the Prime Minister of Barbados, President of Turkey, President of Zambia, Vice President of Spain, Minister of State for Environment from Nigeria, the Transport and Communications Minister of Lithuania, the Minister for Energy of France, the Executive Vice President of the European Commission and the Executive Secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change

COP 28 business programme

  • the partnership objective included a separate but related business programme to realise net zero trade and investment opportunities, including continuing to strengthen economic and investment relationships with the UAE following Scotland’s successful participation in the Dubai Expo
  • the business programme was led by the Scottish Government’s Directorate of Trade and Investment with key partners of Scottish Development International and the Scottish Chambers of Commerce working in a “Team Scotland” partnership
  • hosting the St Andrews Day event at the start of the First Minister’s COP programme provided an opportunity to showcase £30,000 of complementary sustainable Scottish food and drink provided by 21 companies to 250 guests, including Global Scots. This event provided a strong platform for:
    • the rest of the programme including joining King Charles during the formal opening of the Dubai Campus of Heriot Watt University
    • organising over 20 engagements for the Scottish business delegates over four days including networking events, showcasing events, meetings, roundtables, investor showcases, site visits and tours
    • events that showcased Scottish net zero strengths in areas such as space and financial services during COP events
    • and, at the invite of the UAE Ministry of Economy, participating in the first ever Trade Day at a COP
  • the First Minister and the Cabinet Secretary also supported a business delegation of nineteen net zero focussed Scottish companies. Scottish Government facilitated opportunities for the delegation to present their tech to delegates and to pitch for capital investment from the UAE and international venture capitalists. Early feedback from the delegates is overwhelming positive with over 94% stating the business programme was valuable and 69% of those surveyed reporting they left with new business leads to pursue
  • the First Minister also had positive and productive meetings with key UAE Ministers and the Chief Executives of Masdar, TAQA and the Dubai International Finance Centre Authority. Senior officials also facilitated meetings between Masdar and SSE and met with key (non-UAE) inward investors and, along with the Scottish Chambers of Commerce, the Dubai Chamber of Commerce
  • the above programme was also supported by an integrated media and communications campaign developed by the Scottish Government and Scottish Development International and delivered by a UAE based PR agency, Seven Media. This campaign built upon Expo2020 and ADIPEC activity and utilised COP28 to showcase Scottish Net Zero expertise and ambition
  • the Entrepreneurship Division supported the activities of Scottish-led GovTech Global Alliance. In partnership with the Governments of Lithuania and South Australia, the Global Scale-Up Programme (GSUP) returned to COP28 for its third iteration. Our two ClimateTech showcases saw our global cohort of eighteen companies receive significant global exposure opportunities by meeting investors, stakeholders, and key decision-makers from around the world. Already, companies are seeing benefit from the exchange, with partnerships being generated. As the founder of one of the participating companies stated: “It was a fantastic opportunity for Water Offsets, we have exceeded our expectations in various aspects. High level networking, strong connections with investors as well as potential commercial opportunities generated during COP28. Huge thank you to the GovTech Global Alliance team for this amazing experience!” Tapiwa Gavaza, CEO, Water Offsets
  • “GSUP was a rich, curated experience for SpiralData  to gain perspective and refine and showcase our AI (Artificial Intelligence) climate tech solution to a global audience.” CEO Spiral Data
  • the success of the third iteration of the Global Scale Up Programme has led to a partnership between the World Bank and the GovTech Global Alliance, announced at COP28. The Alliance will deliver collaborative training on public sector innovation to members of the World Bank’s GovTech Global Partnership. This is an exciting opportunity for Scotland to grow collaborative networks within Global South public service ecosystems
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