Environmental Sustainability

COP28 Endorses Azerbaijan as Host for COP29, Opening Dialogue on Oil Production Challenges

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.

SMEBRDecember 12, 19:17
Azerbaijan’s Ecology Minister Mukhtar Babayev

Azerbaijan is set to host the COP29 climate change summit next year, securing support from fellow Eastern European nations on Saturday. This decision, resolving months of geopolitical deadlock over the summit's location, immediately brought attention to Azerbaijan's oil production and human rights record.

The rotating presidency of the summit, shifting to Eastern Europe in the upcoming year, led countries from the region to endorse Baku's bid during the ongoing COP28 summit in Dubai. The co-chairs of the group of nations conveyed this in a letter to the U.N. climate change body on Saturday, as seen by Reuters.

Azerbaijan’s Ecology Minister Mukhtar Babayev expressed gratitude, stating, “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,” during his address at COP28.

Zhala Bayramova, daughter of anti-corruption researcher Gubad Ibadoghlu, imprisoned in Azerbaijan for criticizing the country’s oil and gas industry, voiced her dismay, saying, “He (her father) is risking his life for this work... This work is quite meaningless when you have COP29 hosted in Azerbaijan.”

Azerbaijan's bid, facing initial concerns about hosting global climate talks in an oil-producing nation, requires approval from the nearly 200 countries present at COP28. Delegates said they expected the vote to be a formality.

The decision on COP29's host was delayed after Russia pledged to veto any bid by a European Union country due to EU sanctions over its invasion of Ukraine. Azerbaijan, not an EU member, secured an agreement with Armenia to avoid an Armenian veto.

Despite some Western countries' strained relations with Azerbaijan, especially after its control of Nagorno-Karabakh, the country expressed readiness to handle the event, as stated by Aykhan Hajizada, a spokesperson at Azerbaijan’s ministry of foreign affairs.

Acknowledging concerns about Azerbaijan being an oil and gas producer, Hajizada highlighted the country's plans to diversify energy sources, including wind and solar power. The European Commission previously signed a memorandum of understanding with Azerbaijan to increase imports of Azeri natural gas, aiming to diversify away from Russia.