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Azerbaijan kicks off COP29 agenda

Baku Azerbaijan
By Andrew Adie
16 April 2024
Green & Good (ESG and Impact)

Action on accelerating the transition to green energy and climate finance will be among the key themes for COP29, confirmed yesterday in the first press conference from Azerbaijan, which holds the COP29 Presidency.

The annual UN Climate Change Convention will be held in November 2024 in Baku, Azerbaijan’s capital, with Blue and Green Zones close together on a single site at Baku’s Olympic Stadium. While in theory that makes it easier for delegates and observers to get around, the crunch at COP is usually the distance between hotels and the venues. With Azerbaijan as a whole having only around 50,000 hotel rooms. Book early.

There had been much speculation that finance and the role of business would be a key theme at COP29. Baku takes forward the baton from the UAE, which hosted COP28, and pulled off a negotiating coup that few believed was possible; the first agreement that the world will phase down the use of fossil fuels in energy. 

The President of COP28, Sultan Al Jabar (who remains in post until the start of COP29) announced, earlier this year, the formation of the COP Presidencies Troika, which will see the presidencies of COP28, COP29 and COP30 work together to maintain progress on delivering the UAE Consensus.

That means key themes (energy transition, nature preservation and just transition) will continue forward to COP29 but the role of business and finance as the facilitator of transition wasn’t such a major theme in Dubai. The fact that it will be this year is a logical transition to deliver impact domestically in each signatory country – but that action will be heavily scrutinised, and corporates will need to focus on deliverables not just rhetoric.

Azerbaijan’s COP29 Presidency team also went to some lengths at the press conference to reiterate the country’s commitment to the methane pledge and to reducing greenhouse gas emissions. This matters because Azerbaijan, much like the UAE, has an economy heavily dependent on fossil fuels and ensuring that it counters any questions about its commitment and objectivity in the climate transition is key. 

That said the success of COP28 has demonstrated that these UN climate change conferences remain an international forum to deliver net zero and the interests of the global community are the primary driver. 

The curve ball for COP29 is that the global community is in a state of significant flux, with the ‘year of democracy’ seeing 4 billion people (more than half the world’s population) going to the polls with the result of those elections having a critical impact on the environmental policies and ambitions that we will see represented at COP. The US Presidential election will take place immediately before COP and could see significant weakening in US environmental ambition if Donald Trump gets back into office.

We may also be in the midst of a UK General Election campaign and the second week of COP will see the G20 meeting in Rio taking place, which will draw away many political leaders.

This is an opportunity for business to step up and to demonstrate, much as it did at COP26 in Glasgow, that it can collaborate, innovate, and drive forward plans and investment strategies that can deliver the Paris agreement. The issue is the ever-ticking clock and the need to accelerate and deliver on previous promises.

SEC Newgate will shortly be publishing its Road to COP29 guide, and our team will be on the ground in Baku helping clients to build their networks, engage with other businesses and politicians and ensure they have a seat at the negotiating tables that impact their industry and sector