Is Azerbaijan a COP-out for the parties on climate change?

RASHMEE ROSHAN LALL December 11, 2023
Weather, global warming and climate change, according to NASA

One of the weirdest developments to emerge from the Emirati COP28 with its unique flavours (including apparently, camel milk ice cream) is the choice of successor host.


What, really?

The United Nations’ annual talks on climate change will yet again be in an oil-rich country?

News from Dubai is full of disbelief over the camel ice cream cones. With Baku’s bid soon to be formally signed off, COP28 delegates have been wondering what Azerbaijan adds to talks on the climate crisis. Other than fossil fuels, that is. It was in Baku, by some accounts, that one of the world’s first oil fields developed 1,200 years ago.

Remember, fossil fuels make up more than 90 per cent of Azerbaijan’s exports. Listening journalists at COP28 have reported sotto voce fulminations of sundry diplomats, not least a European Union (EU) official. One quote has the EU man spluttering into his coffee: “I think it’s an abomination. At least the Emiratis have been making some efforts to green their industry. Azerbaijan has shown zero interest in climate policy.”

And yet…it seems keen to be seen as green-hued.

Baku’s tryst with the Conference of the Parties (COP) on climate change is currently pencilled in for November 11 to November 24, 2024. That would mean COP29 clashing with the G20 summit in Rio de Janeiro (November 18 to 19) but it’s still doable. After all, the high-level part of COP29 – Days 1 and 2 really – won’t overlap with that other summit.

That said, Azerbaijan’s COP will be the third year running that the UN’s feisty climate talks are hosted in locales where speech and  free will are somewhat restricted: Egypt, the UAE and now Azerbaijan. It’s making many queasy but is not necessarily a bad thing because it shows that COPs reflect the diversity of the world in which we live and seek to preserve.

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