Azerbaijan’s bid to host COP29 gains momentum

German State Secretary, Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Nuclear Safety and Consumer Protection (BMUV) Stefan Tidow, Japanese Vice-Minister for Global Environmental Affairs Yutaka Matsuzawa, Yvonne Aki-Sawyerr, Mayor of the Freetown, Sierra Leone and British Minister of State for Energy Security and Net Zero Graham Stuart attend the session of discussion on the Global Cooling Pledge aimed at reducing emissions and exploring sustainable cooling solutions, during the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP28), in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, December 5, 2023. REUTERS/Thaier Al-Sudani

Azerbaijan is on the brink of securing the esteemed position of host for the upcoming U.N. climate summit, as it garners support from a multitude of nations, including Russia, as reported by diplomatic sources at the COP28 climate talks in Dubai.

The decision regarding the host of COP29 has been entangled in geopolitical tensions. Russia made its stance clear by stating its intention to veto any bid from a European Union country due to the EU’s sanctions against Moscow for its military actions in Ukraine.

Azerbaijan’s bid gained traction following an agreement with Armenia, its historical foe. This accord ensures that Armenia will refrain from vetoing Azerbaijan’s hosting bid in exchange for membership in the eastern European group’s COP bureau. The two countries have been embroiled in a long-standing conflict over the Nagorno-Karabakh region, with Azerbaijan recently reclaiming control from ethnic Armenian forces.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Azerbaijan disclosed that they have received substantial support from numerous countries, particularly from the eastern European group. Furthermore, reports suggest that Russia is backing Azerbaijan’s bid.

It is anticipated that other eastern European countries will also support Azerbaijan’s bid, despite Moldova presenting its own bid and Serbia contemplating doing the same. Diplomats at COP28 are diligently working towards reaching a decision before the summit’s scheduled conclusion on Dec. 12.

The prolonged impasse over the host of COP29 has left minimal time for the chosen country to prepare for the monumental event. Hosting the climate summit not only confers diplomatic prestige but also subjects the host nation’s own climate change endeavors to close scrutiny.

Azerbaijan, as a producer of oil and gas and as a member of OPEC+, encounters its own set of challenges in the battle against climate change. Nevertheless, the country has affirmed that its strategic aspirations include the diversification of energy resources, with a specific emphasis on renewable energy, such as wind and solar power.

The United Arab Emirates, the present host of COP28, has faced censure for appointing the head of its state-run oil company as the president of the summit, particularly in light of it being an oil-producing nation. Azerbaijan has acknowledged the raised concerns but remains staunch in its commitment to pursuing renewable energy alternatives, notwithstanding its abundant reserves of oil and gas.

As negotiations persist at COP28, the prospect of Azerbaijan hosting COP29 underscores the intricacies of global climate diplomacy and the potential for adversaries to discover common ground in the battle against climate change.

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