Azerbaijan speeds up the green transition by hosting the COP29 UN Climate Change Conference (ANALYTICS)

by Shahmar Hajiyev

Azerbaijan will host the 2024 UN Climate Change Conference (UNFCCC COP 29) for the first time in the region from November 11- 22, 2024. One can ask a question what is the COP, and why is the COP important? It is worthwhile here to note that the COP is the supreme decision-making body of the Convention. All States that are Parties to the Convention are represented at the COP, at which they review the implementation of the Convention and any other legal instruments that the COP adopts and take decisions necessary to promote the effective implementation of the Convention, including institutional and administrative arrangements. It is an enormous opportunity to bring heads of state and governments, civil society organizations, business, and international institutions together in the South Caucasus to discuss climate change, measures to accelerate the implementation of the Paris Agreement, and focus on long-term climate strategies and goals.  

The host country of the COP normally rotates among the five United Nations regional groups (Africa, Asia-Pacific, Eastern Europe, Latin American and the Caribbean, and Western European and Others), with regional group members determining which country from their region will make an offer to host the conference. The first COP was held in Berlin, Germany from 28 March - 7 April 1995.  The Parties started long negotiations and consultations before delegates with vastly different priorities and concerns came to agreement on what many believed to be the central issue before COP1. Delegates also reached agreement on a number of other important decisions, including the establishment of a pilot phase for the implementation of joint projects, agreement that the Permanent Secretariat should be located in Bonn, and decisions on the budget for the Secretariat, financial procedures and the establishment of the subsidiary bodies. This year’s summit (COP29) will be held in Baku, Azerbaijan after winning backing from other Eastern European nations. Even though Azerbaijan is rich in fossil fuels, and its energy mix is heavily concentrated in fossil fuels (oil and natural gas), the country supports a sustainable energy future and a green economy.

The 2024 was declared "Green World Solidarity Year" in Azerbaijan, and it is an important measure to demonstrate Azerbaijan’s commitment to environmental protection and climate action. Baku's high-profile role as an experienced country in hosting international events supports Azerbaijan’s ultimate goal of hosting such an important event in Baku. Moreover, Azerbaijan has proved itself as a reliable energy partner and a responsible member of the international community in the fight against global warming. Even though the country is rich in fossil fuels, and its energy mix is heavily concentrated in fossil fuels (oil and natural gas), Azerbaijan supports a sustainable energy future and a green economy.

To this end, Azerbaijan has already started the green transition process, and after signing the Paris Agreement on climate change, the country aims reducing greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) by up to 35% by 2030, and 40% by 2050. Moreover, developing renewable energy sources in the country became a key part of Azerbaijan’s clean energy strategy. Renewable energy sources are expected to make up 30% of Azerbaijan’s electricity generation by 2030. Such potential of the country would help the country save natural gas for exports as well as reduce the country’s GHG emissions to meet its Paris Agreement commitment.  

Last year, Azerbaijan accelerated the process of development of green energy, therefore the country signed several important green energy agreements with the UAE’s global renewables company Masdar, ADNOC, ACWA Power, TEPSCO, bp, and China Gezhouba Group Overseas Investment to implement renewable energy projects in the country.  Also, transforming Azerbaijan into a “green energy hub” is a key component of the country’s energy policy. Karabakh, East Zangezur, and Nakhchivan have already been declared a green energy zone. Azerbaijan’s green growth strategy and green energy projects will transform the country into a “green energy hub” in the region to supply renewable energy sources from the South Caucasus to Europe.

It should be noted that in COP28 in Dubai, the parties discussed many important issues and agreed on the "loss and damage" fund that could start handing out money. During the Dubai COP28 discussions continued on setting a ‘new collective quantified goal on climate finance’ in 2024, taking into account the needs and priorities of developing countries. COP29 in Baku will be an important platform to support international cooperation to act on climate change, implement the Paris commitments, and focus on long-term goals.

To sum up, the COP29 summit will be the biggest international event ever hosted by Azerbaijan, and in order to plan and organize this important event successfully, President of the Republic of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev signed a decree on the establishment of the Organizational Committee. The COP29 will contribute positively to infrastructure development and improvements, upgrading communication infrastructure, providing digital technology, and last but not least, supporting the tourism sector in Azerbaijan. At the same time, COP29 may support regional peace in the South Caucasus, as the end of war between Armenia and Azerbaijan opens up new opportunities for regional economic integration and durable peace. In the end, COP29 may turn out to be an important opportunity for Azerbaijan to support a wider use of renewable energy sources, and speed up the green transition.  

Shahmar Hajiyev, a senior advisor at the Baku-based Center of Analysis of International Relations (AIR Center), exclusively for News.Az

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