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COP29 host Azerbaijan still ‘working on’ its own climate plan

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The host of the UN COP29 climate summit said finding the funds to help countries respond to global warming was critical to negotiations in Azerbaijan this year, without offering any detail on an update to its own climate plans.

Mukhtar Babayev, minister of ecology and natural resources of Azerbaijan, warned against countries going to Baku for the summit to renegotiate past agreements, as the COP29 president-designate set out his agenda to climate ministers who were meeting in Berlin on Thursday.

He said that Azerbaijan understood it needed to lead by example, and pledged to “put climate action into the heart of our national development plans”.

Azerbaijan said it is “working on” submitting a national climate plan that is aligned with the 1.5C warming goal of the Paris agreement. The plan it last submitted to the UN pledged a 40 per cent cut in greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, from 1990 levels, conditional on international support.

Some UN climate summit veterans questioned privately whether much progress will be made at COP29 in November.

Babayev said his two pillars for COP29 were to “enhance ambition and enable action”. Agreements reached at past UN summits “now need to be delivered, not reinterpreted. Fulfilled, not renegotiated.”

At last year’s COP28 summit in Dubai, discussions were dominated by efforts to seal a global agreement to dump fossil fuels.

COP29 would focus not only on helping countries to develop national climate goals in the shift away from fossil fuels, he said, but also on sharing plans for how to adapt to global warming.

This adaptation work needed to include agriculture, which employs one-third of the labour force in Azerbaijan. “Climate change is already lowering crop yields and limiting our ability to feed a growing planet,” Babayev added.

Oil and natural gas bring in about 90 per cent of Azerbaijan’s export revenues and finance about 60 per cent of the government budget, according to International Energy Agency figures.

Babayev himself spent more than two decades at the state oil company until 2018 when he was appointed a minister by President Ilham Aliyev.

In Berlin, he also called on businesses to step up action. “Businesses have previously made progress committing to net zero. Companies must now deliver and avoid backsliding.”

The COP29 presidency was working on getting finance action with groups including multilateral financial institutions, the private sector, the financial services industry and philanthropy, he said.

An estimated $2tn a year is needed for developing nations to shift their economies to green energy and avoid the burning of fossil fuels behind climate change.

“We need to agree a new climate finance goal, strengthen global financial institutions, put capital into the transition, unlock all mechanisms to support climate action, and increase and speed up concessional finance and philanthropy,” Babayev said.

Azerbaijan, as well as past host UAE and the host of COP30, Brazil, aim to work together under a so-called troika system, to implement UN climate agreements.

With the world experiencing its first 12-month period where the average temperature rise breached the critical benchmark of 1.5C above pre-industrial times, Babayev said “climate change is not a future risk”.

“It is a real and present danger.”

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