NE Global Media

COP29 in Azerbaijan to focus on peace, climate finance, green issues

by Kostis Geropoulos
COP29 President-Designate & Ecology Minister Mukhtar Babayev addresses his country's chairmanship priorities for the UN climate conference this year at the World Forum on Intercultural Dialogue for Peace and Global Security in Baku, Azerbaijan, May 1, 2024

27 May 2024

During this year’s United Nations climate conference COP29, host-country Azerbaijan will strive to act as a bridge-builder between all members of the international community, finding common ground among countries on key issues like climate finance and energy transition but also to advance the peace agenda as global conflicts continue to take a heavy toll on people’s lives and the environment.

Elchin Amirbayov, Representative of the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan for Special Assignments, said in an interview with NE Global in Baku early this month that his main portfolio is normalization between Armenia and Azerbaijan and COP29 has a certain role.

“One of the recent confidence-building measures which were achieved between Armenia and Azerbaijan was this deal which was reached last December (COP28 in Dubai) between the two countries when there was an arrangement on mutual freeing of some detainees and also exchange of diplomatic support to each other. So, Armenia lifted its veto on Azerbaijan’s application to host COP29 and reciprocally from our side we also agreed that Armenia would be part of the executive committee for that global climate conference. Of course, that was a major breakthrough because it was for the first time that through direct low-level contacts, we were able to get this CBM (Confidence Building Measure) and that also showed that both countries are able to sort out their differences in direct, bilateral contacts without any third-part intervention,” Amirbayov said.

Now that the whole world’s eyes are focused on Baku hosting COP29, it is a good opportunity for Armenia and Azerbaijan to finally sign the peace agreement, he argued.  “The opinion shared by both Yerevan and Baku is that today we are in a much more promising situation,” the Azeri President’s special representative opined.

“The peace agreement is now on the table, so we continue our work. And we’re cautiously optimistic because we believe that it is doable to finalize negotiations to this text before COP29 even,” he said. “I think it’s quite doable. It would give a strong signal also to the outside world that one of the most ancient and longest and tragic conflicts on the European continent in the post-Soviet space is coming to an end so I believe both countries and peoples of Armenia and Azerbaijan should be ready for this positive outcome,” Amirbayov added.

For his part, Farid Shafiyev, Chairman of the Center for the Analysis of International Relations (AIR Center), told NE Global in Baku that becoming a host country for COP29 has a foreign policy significance for Azerbaijan. “Besides this climate change context, I think the importance lies in the fact that we have been given this COP29 in negotiations with Armenia. So, it’s kind of the legacy of the positive outcome of our long-standing problems related to Karabakh,” he said. “Most probably our chairmanship will be also concentrated on the linkage between conflict, peace and climate change. “It’s not only here in the South Caucasus but in some other areas. In Eastern Europe now we have the Russian-Ukraine war with huge damage to the environment, to energy infrastructure and the conflict in the Middle East,” Shafiyev said.

The Chairman of the AIR Center highlighted the problem of landmine contamination, deforestation and water issues in the war-torn area of Karabakh. “We are facing a problem with landmine contamination, it has also climate change context,” he said.

The third day at the World Forum on Intercultural Dialogue for Peace and Global Security took place in Aghdam on May 3 with the participation of UNESCO, focusing on the problem of landmines, improvised explosive devices and unexploded ordinances in the region.

At the start of the same forum in Baku on May 1, COP29 President-Designate & Ecology Minister Mukhtar Babayev said in his speech that a greener, more sustainable future is not only important from an environmental point of view but it’s also critical for economic opportunities and reaching climate goals.

Amirbayov told NE Global that Azerbaijan will exert additional efforts to make COP29 another success story. “One of the issues that have to be addressed is the climate finance problem and one of the major roles here is trying to bridge the differences between opposing views in the spirit of solidarity and in the spirit of responsibility of all members of the international community and the European Union has already expressed its readiness and willingness to interact closely with Azerbaijan as a host country. They pledged at the highest level their support to make sure that COP29 in Baku is a success,” he said.

For his part, Shafiyev said that during its COP29 chairmanship, Azerbaijan would like to be the voice of the Global South, addressing the problems of the developing countries that need assistance. “Another significance is that we are indeed an oil-producing country that is promoting a green-energy agenda and we already embarked on alternative energy projects,” he said.

Amirbayov said Azerbaijan has an enormous potential for solar and wind energy. “Already the contracts signed in the coming years will raise the production of renewable energy or green energy to 5 GW. The potential is 150 GW including wind power from the Caspian Sea,” he said.

“We plan to export electricity through a subsea cable in the Black Sea. This is a project which unites Azerbaijan, Georgia, Romania, Bulgaria and Hungary. We also think of exporting hydrogen. These are projects that not only diversify our energy exports to Europe but also ensure the transition to green energy inside the country,” Amirbayov said, adding, “COP29 is an excellent opportunity to demonstrate that even if you are a country which is known for its history of producing oil and gas with some vision and strategic choice, you stand a good chance of moving towards green energy and becoming an example for others.”

Kostis Geropoulos is Co-founder / Director of Energy & Climate Policy and Security at NE Global Media

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