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The head of Cop29 declares that newly elected officials must adhere to the same environmental responsibilities.
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The head of Cop29 declares that newly elected officials must adhere to the same environmental responsibilities.

This year’s United Nations climate summit leader has cautioned that governments taking office after elections worldwide will have the same responsibilities towards addressing climate change as those before them.

The 29th Conference of Parties (Cop29) is scheduled to take place in Baku, Azerbaijan in November, towards the end of a significant year where major countries such as the UK, EU, US, India, and Russia will hold elections. The US presidential election, expected to be a contentious battle with climate change as a major topic, is set for 5 November, followed by Cop29 from 11 to 22 November in Baku.

Mukhtar Babayev, the incoming president of Cop29, expressed that regardless of new leadership, there will still be a necessity to decrease greenhouse gas emissions and address global warming.

“According to Babayev, in his first major interview since being appointed in January, he believes that no election will lead to a change in national policies regarding addressing climate issues. Therefore, his goal is to capitalize on any opportunity and form connections with these countries in order to promote positive progress and results in this process.”

The upcoming governments, regardless of their affiliations, will still need to confront the pressing issue of climate change, according to the speaker. As the Azerbaijan presidency, they will hold these governments accountable for their promises. The speaker expressed confidence that all nations will fulfill their commitments and work towards addressing the crisis. They remain optimistic and committed to working towards progress in this direction.

Acknowledging that elections were happening in multiple countries, Babayev chose not to name any particular nations but did note that the US election was “a highly fascinating process.”

He stated that they will collaborate with the current administration until the end of the year. He also expressed optimism about their ability to persuade all participants to come to Baku to discuss the agenda. They are actively working with the US’s current administration in order to create a joint agenda and reach their goals together.

Azerbaijan has been an oil producer since the 1840s, and is one of the world’s top fossil fuel suppliers. Oil and gas account for 92% of the country’s exports, according to US data, and about two-thirds of the state budget, and the country is planning to increase its gas output by a third in the next decade.

According to Babayev, the government plans to make the economy more environmentally-friendly by increasing the use of renewable energy and shifting away from fossil fuels. He mentioned that oil production is expected to decrease, but there is a need for an increase in gas production to meet the demands of the EU. This is due to the EU’s efforts to find alternative gas sources since the invasion of Ukraine, as they no longer rely on gas from Russia.

“Our priority is to supply [gas] to the European market due to high demand from the EU. We have implemented a plan to increase our gas delivery. However, our goal is to use these revenues to make environmentally-friendly investments and potentially transform our economy.”

He mentioned the country’s commitment to reducing carbon emissions and reaching a goal of having 30% of its energy come from renewable sources by 2030. He also stated that Azerbaijan is leading in the region in investing in alternative energy and has plans to transition to a greener economy. The government has already implemented several programs to support this environmental agenda.

Azerbaijan is currently investigating the potential for offshore wind in the Caspian Sea, and is also developing strategies to supply clean energy to Hungary and Romania through the Black Sea.

Organizing a Cop summit in a nation heavily reliant on fossil fuels is a contentious decision, and Azerbaijan was only selected as the host country at a later time. At the Cop28 meeting where the decision was made, Russia rejected potential bids from eastern European countries, but ultimately did not block Azerbaijan’s eventual proposal.

Babayev, who has authored an editorial for the Guardian, highlighted Armenia’s backing of Azerbaijan in their ongoing dispute over disputed land, which dates back to pre-Soviet Union times and ended in the surrender of Nagorno-Karabakh after Azerbaijan’s successful military attack in September of last year.

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The speaker promised that Azerbaijan could serve as a link between the northern and southern hemispheres, as well as the eastern and western regions. He also proposed the implementation of a “troika” system by the United Nations, where the previous hosts (United Arab Emirates and Brazil) would collaborate on the negotiations for Cop28 and Cop30, respectively.

Climate finance is expected to be a major focus at Cop29, with a pressing concern being the struggle of developing countries to secure adequate funds for transitioning to renewable energy sources and reducing reliance on fossil fuels.

Babayev urged the private sector to increase their investment in helping the developing world transition to more environmentally-friendly practices. He also emphasized the role of publicly funded banks like the World Bank in this effort. Babayev explained the importance of involving the private sector in climate finance, as it can provide valuable resources and innovative strategies for financing.

The Cop29 conference is scheduled for the end of what is expected to be another year of record-high temperatures worldwide. Recently, we saw the first instance of global average temperatures for a full year surpassing the crucial 1.5C mark above pre-industrial levels.

Rephrased: A single year of reaching these levels is insufficient to render the Paris agreement invalid. This agreement aims to keep temperatures below the 1.5C threshold. However, scientists are growing more doubtful as global emissions continue to rise without showing signs of decline in a timely manner.

Babayev stressed that the objective of limiting global temperature rise to 1.5C should remain a top priority in discussions within the UN framework convention on climate change. He urged for a united effort towards achieving this goal.

I am not discouraged about this matter. It is important that we focus on achieving our goal and carrying out the program to decrease global emissions. If we take action and follow through with the plans discussed at previous Conferences of the Parties, there is hope for progress. We are committed to trying our hardest.

Source: theguardian.com