COP28: What is COP28? When is it? Why is First Minister Humza Yousaf attending the Dubai climate conference?

Delegates from around the world are descending on the United Arab Emirates to discuss the global response to climate change

It may be cold outside right now – but one person who won’t be feeling the chill winter weather will be First Minister Humza Yousaf.

That’s because he and Scotland’s net zero secretary Màiri McAllan are in Dubai to attend the COP28 climate conference, where the mercury is expected to top 30C.

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This comes two years after Glasgow hosted the COP26 climate summit back in 2021. The Scotsman has taken a look at all you need to know about Mr Yousaf’s visit to Dubai and what he will be getting up to at COP28.

First Minister Humza Yousaf. Image: Lesley Martin/Press Association.First Minister Humza Yousaf. Image: Lesley Martin/Press Association.
First Minister Humza Yousaf. Image: Lesley Martin/Press Association.

What is COP28?

COP is an annual summit that brings together over 200 countries to discuss the global response to climate change. This has happened ever since the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change was launched back in 1992 in Rio de Janeiro.

‘COP’ itself stands for the Conference of the Parties to the Convention.

Where and when is COP28?

This year’s summit will run from Thursday, November 30 until Tuesday, December 12 in Dubai in the United Arab Emirates.

What are the key issues that will be discussed?

At the 2015 summit, the Paris Agreement was signed, pledging to limit global temperature rises to 1.5C – ever since this agreement was signed, it has formed a central part of COP discussions.

On top of this delegates will use this year’s conference to call on the G20 nations, which includes the UK, to lead the way in tackling climate change. It will also look at the “global stocktake”.

This is the plan for getting the world back on track for lower levels of global warming by getting richer developed countries to help poorer, more vulnerable countries to either stop their contribution to climate change, or adapt to its impacts.

Last year at COP27 in Sharm El-Sheikh in Egypt, there was a commitment made to set up a fund to pay for the loss and damage caused by climate change, but this has not yet been set up. This could also feature in this year’s discussions.

What will Humza Yousaf be doing at the conference?

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Mr Yousaf say he will use the conference to highlight Scotland’s commitment to tackling the climate and nature emergences, and will call on world leaders to take more action on loss and damage funding for countries suffering the worst impacts of climate change.

He said: “The Scottish Government will use COP28 to call on all to urgently step up to address the injustice at the heart of climate change by supporting those communities who are suffering the most, but have done the least to cause climate impacts, including through our leadership on loss and damage.

“Only by working together can we meet the need and urgency of the task that lies ahead. We simply do not have time to work alone when it comes to our just transition to net zero.”

Ms McAllan will showcase Scotland’s just transition and the work to build the renewables industry during her visit. The First Minister will also be accompanied by a number of Scottish companies, who will use the conference to try and attract investment into Scotland.

Who are the key figures at COP28?

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, newly appointed foreign secretary Lord David Cameron and King Charles III will all be attending the summit.

Labour’s Sir Keir Starmer, David Lammy and Ed Miliband will also spend two days at the conference.

Some of the other big names include US climate envoy John Kerry, Bill Gates, Irish Taoiseach Leo Varadkar, and Brazilian president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva.

There are some controversial names on the guest list as well though.

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Ruslan Edelgeriyev, Vladimir Putin’s climate advisor, is one of them, but perhaps it is sensible seeing as Russia is the fifth biggest carbon polluter in the world after China, the US, India and the EU.

And the appointment of Sultan al-Jaber, chief executive of the UAE’s national oil company, to head up the summit has raised a few eyebrows. Climate activist Greta Thunberg even branded the decision “completely ridiculous”.

This is probably even more ridiculous as leaked documents published by the BBC show the UAE had planned to use its position as the host country to discuss oil and gas deals with more than a dozen countries. On top of this, the UAE sparked controversy by extending an invite to Syrian president Bashar al-Assad, but we don’t yet know if he is going to show face.

Who won’t be there?

US President Joe Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping are not expected to attend, despite heading up the two nations which contribute the most to climate change. They are both sending emissaries along in their place.

What will happen in Scotland while the First Minister is away?

Deputy First Minister Shona Robison is in charge.

Mr Yousaf will miss the weekly First Minister’s Questions on Thursday while he is in Dubai, and the deputy first minister will face questioning from Douglas Ross, Anas Sarwar and others instead.



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