Azerbaijan looks almost certain to welcome next year’s COP29 climate summit, having secured the support of Eastern European nations and being endorsed by current COP28 hosts, UAE.
End to a logjam?
The location of the next summit had been the subject of a months-long impasse, amid tit-for-tat vetoing. Russia had vowed not to let any European Union nation host the event, due to ongoing sanctions surrounding the Russian invasion of Ukraine and the European Commission’s partnering with Azerbaijan to double imports of Azeri natural gas and diversify away from Russia.
After intense negotiations, Amenia and Bulgaria have now withdrawn their candidacies, leaving the path free for Azerbaijan. The process still requires the approval of COP28’s 200 or so attendees, but it is thought the majority will give the green light.
Azerbaijan’s Ecology Minister Mukhtar Babayev used a main stage address at COP28 to thank those involved in the breakthrough.
We’re very grateful to all countries, in particular to the Eastern European group and the [COP28 summit] host United Arab Emirates for their support.Mukhtar Babayev, Azerbaijan’s Ecology Minister
“We are very grateful to all countries, in particular to the Eastern European group and the host United Arab Emirates for their support,” said Babayev. “We are committed to working inclusively and collaboratively with everyone to ensure the success of COP29. May COP28 lead us forward toward a more sustainable and secure future for all.”
If Azerbaijan and its capital Baku does go on and win the event, it will not be plain sailing from there. Critics are already questioning the choice before it has happened, pointing out the ironic symbolism, of choosing another oil-rich OPEC+ nation to host a climate change summit and gain a powerful platform on the world stage.
“The road from #COP28 will, it seems, lead to Baku, possibly the world’s first ‘oil capital’ a thousand years ago, where Marco Polo documented oil being traded, and where tourists can still top up their health by getting into a bath of crude,” said Richard Black, of climate campaign group Ember, in a posted on X.
Others point out Azerbaijan’s human rights record, citing the recent exodus in Nagorno-Karabakh, as well as the jailing of anti-corruption researcher and London School of Economics Professor, Gubad Ibadoghlu, whose incarceration came after he advocated for transparency in the country’s oil and gas industry.
Aykhan Hajizada, a spokesperson for Azerbaijan’s ministry of foreign affairs told press on Friday that Baku was well equipped to handle the event and understood concerns over the choice of an oil nation but was adding wind and solar power to its energy menu.