After tense negotiations, Azerbaijan has been selected as the host country for Cop29.
Next year’s climate summit will be hosted by Azerbaijan following tense negotiations.
According to UN regulations, it was time for eastern Europe to assume the rotating presidency. However, the groups must come to a unanimous decision on who will host. EU countries were hindered by Russia’s veto and Azerbaijan and Armenia were at a stalemate in their competing bids.
Observers were becoming concerned about the possibility of finding a country that could afford and provide the necessary resources to host a major conference. However, Armenia withdrew its offer and instead decided to support Azerbaijan.
Environmental advocates are expected to express worry about this update, as there is already a belief that the police have been influenced by the fossil fuel industry. Similar to the current host nation, which has a population of 10 million and is situated on the border of Eastern Europe and Western Asia, the country heavily relies on fossil fuels for its economy. In fact, the production of oil and gas contributed to almost half of Azerbaijan’s GDP and over 92.5% of its export income in 2019, as reported by the US government’s International Trade Administration.
According to civil society organizations, Azerbaijan has a poor track record when it comes to human rights. On the Freedom Index, which is compiled by a US-based NGO, the country is classified as “not free” and received a score of 9/100 for political rights and civil liberties. Svitilana Romanko from Razon Ukraine expressed concern over the increasingly oppressive regime of Ilham Aliyev in recent years, with the elimination of political opposition. She also noted that the trend of using fossil fuels as a weapon not only incites hostility among nations ruled by petrodictators, but also poses a threat to hosting major events like the Cops in countries where human rights are violently suppressed.
However, there were those who felt relieved that a decision had finally been made. Kaveh Guilanpour, vice-president of the Center for Climate and Energy Solutions, stated that it was positive that the uncertainty about the host of Cop29 had been resolved. This allows for plans to be made following Cop28 for the crucial years of 2024 and 2025, when all countries must present new climate targets.
Several countries, with the Netherlands at the helm, have recently declared more stringent measures to curb subsidies for fossil fuels. The International Monetary Fund reports that in 2022, fossil fuels received an unprecedented amount of $13 million (£10.3 million) per minute in subsidies, despite being the main contributor to the current climate crisis.
During a media briefing in Dubai, Wopke Hoekstra, the EU’s climate commissioner, stated: “It is imperative to put an end to the peculiar practice of providing subsidies for fossil fuels, as they are impeding our progress.”
Steven Guilbeault, the Canadian minister in charge of climate, encouraged nations to eliminate subsidies at an earlier time. He stated, “By gradually removing ineffective subsidies for fossil fuels across the globe, we can ensure that our expenditures are in line with our climate goals.”
During the last days of the climate summit, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) will reveal its anticipated plan for agriculture in a world where temperatures rise no more than 1.5 degrees Celsius.
The FAO roadmap is anticipated to lack specific information but have ambitious goals. The release will probably outline key objectives but save major concerns for later, promising to provide more comprehensive details at Cop29 and Cop30.
Many individuals are disappointed with the FAO’s approach to addressing the future of agriculture, as it has not prioritized the urgent need to reduce meat and dairy consumption in order to meet the goals of the Paris climate agreement. Stephanie Feldstein, the director of population and sustainability at the Center for Biological Diversity in the US, expressed her disappointment, stating that the FAO’s roadmap does not adequately address the urgency of this issue. She emphasizes that continued growth in the meat and dairy industry will have devastating consequences for our climate, land, water, air, and biodiversity, and calls for a serious effort to reduce consumption in wealthy countries.
The current presidency of Cop28 is collaborating closely with pairs of ministers to reach a consensus on the most contentious elements of the final decision. Instead of Claire Coutinho, the UK’s Secretary for Energy Security and Net Zero, the country will be represented by her Minister of State Graham Stuart and the UK’s Secretary for the Environment Steve Barclay. While the UK’s negotiating team is highly regarded for their expertise and commitment, the absence of the lead cabinet minister has been noted. Several countries have expressed disappointment to The Guardian, as the UK was previously seen as a strong advocate for climate action and played an important role in bridging gaps between nations behind the scenes.
Fortunately, the problem of loss and damage was addressed early on, unlike during last year’s Cop27 discussions in Egypt where developed and developing countries were at a standstill until the wealthy nations changed their stance in the last few days.
However, providing a fund for loss and damage is not the sole solution for developing countries to manage the effects of the climate crisis. Adaptation, which focuses on increasing resilience to extreme weather events, has been a neglected topic during these discussions. Developing countries are frustrated with the lack of adequate funding from wealthy nations. The majority of the annual $100 billion in climate finance allocated to poorer nations is used for “mitigation” efforts, such as reducing greenhouse gas emissions. For several years, developing countries have been advocating for a doubling of funding for adaptation.
Ephraim Mwepya Shitima, a Zambian individual who leads the African delegation of negotiators, expressed that urgent action is needed to address the current state of adaptation and the suffering of vulnerable populations. He emphasized the importance of closing the adaptation gap with sufficient funding in order to prevent Africa from being left behind. This should be a key focus in the outcome of Cop28.
Although it may seem impossible to close the significant divide between nations on the issue of a fossil fuel phase-out, it is unusual for the negotiations to reach such a critical point with still so much time for discussion. There are four days remaining, from Saturday to Tuesday, during which significant progress can be made. However, in terms of bridging the gap between countries in favor of a phase-out and those against it, this time frame is insufficient. The next four days will be tense as the negotiations could potentially go awry. The key will be to prevent the phase-out option from being discarded by opposing countries.
The focus is on Saudi Arabia, as reported by the Guardian on Friday, for its efforts in persuading Opec countries to resist calls for phasing out. The United Arab Emirates, the host country, has a strong relationship with Saudi Arabia. When asked by the Guardian, Cop president Sultan Al Jaber was optimistic about Saudi Arabia’s involvement in the talks, stating that their government has been positive and engaged in his cause for achieving ambitious climate action at Cop28.
He stated, “They have been working together and are very motivated. They have been communicating and collaborating effectively in all areas related to climate.”
As the discussions continue, Al Jaber’s responsibility is to transform that optimistic attitude and involvement into concrete results.