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Another oil state hosting climate summit? Azerbaijan clears hurdle

Petro-state Azerbaijan has cleared a key hurdle to host next year’s UN climate summit despite the controversy over COP28 taking place in the oil-rich United Arab Emirates

By: EBR - Posted: Wednesday, December 13, 2023

“The road from COP28 will, it seems, lead to Baku, possibly the world’s first ‘oil capital’ a thousand years ago, where Marco Polo documented oil being traded, and where tourists can still top up their health by getting into a bath of crude,” Richard Black of the energy think tank Ember wrote on X, formerly known as Twitter.
“The road from COP28 will, it seems, lead to Baku, possibly the world’s first ‘oil capital’ a thousand years ago, where Marco Polo documented oil being traded, and where tourists can still top up their health by getting into a bath of crude,” Richard Black of the energy think tank Ember wrote on X, formerly known as Twitter.

Petro-state Azerbaijan has cleared a key hurdle to host next year’s UN climate summit despite the controversy over COP28 taking place in the oil-rich United Arab Emirates.

Armenia said Thursday it was dropping its rival bid for COP29 as it tries to normalise relations with its neighbour after Azerbaijan seized back an Armenian-backed enclave in a lightning war in September.

Bulgaria, which had also sought to host COP29 but was opposed by Russia which calls “hostile” all EU members, also formally ended its bid and backed Azerbaijan.

Sofia said it was throwing its support to Baku “in the spirit of goodwill and for the sake of a successful climate conference”.

A decision on next year’s host is expected before the end of COP28 on Tuesday in Dubai, with the talks focused on whether to phase down fossil fuels helmed by the head of the UAE’s national oil and gas company.

COP, or the Conference of the Parties under the UN climate body, takes place each year in a different region, with Asia choosing Dubai.

Next year is the turn of Eastern Europe and Russia. Under Western pressure over its invasion of Ukraine, Moscow has opposed the Bulgarian bid, saying no European Union member should take charge.

Other potential candidates include Serbia — which has historic ties with Russia but warming relations with the EU — and Moldova, a EU candidate country.

‘Very good news’

Both the European Union and the UN climate body said it was up to the Eastern European nations to identify a host nation.

“It is for the regional groups, not for the European Union, to decide on the rotating presidency,” Wopke Hoekstra, the European climate commissioner, told reporters.

“On a general note, I find it positive that there is a joint statement between two countries with very tense relation(s),” he said.

“So at the very least, as a confidence-building measure, I think this is very good news.”

Azerbaijan, ruled with an iron fist by President Ilham Aliyev since 2003, has enjoyed growing international clout through its oil and gas sector, which accounts for 90% of its export revenues.

“The road from COP28 will, it seems, lead to Baku, possibly the world’s first ‘oil capital’ a thousand years ago, where Marco Polo documented oil being traded, and where tourists can still top up their health by getting into a bath of crude,” Richard Black of the energy think tank Ember wrote on X, formerly known as Twitter.

But Romain Ioualalen, of the advocacy group Oil Change International, called on the UN climate body to ensure that any future host allows “full civil society and media participation, freedom of speech and assembly, and a strict conflict of interest policy to keep fossil fuel interests away from climate negotiations”.

*first published in: Euractiv.com

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