Congressmen in the US Are “Very Concerned” That Petrostate Azerbaijan Will Host COP29

White House officials, 26 US lawmakers warned Azerbaijan’s “poor human-rights record” and fossil fuel dependency could compromise the UN climate talks | Image Credit: earth.org
White House officials, 26 US lawmakers warned Azerbaijan’s “poor human-rights record” and fossil fuel dependency could compromise the UN climate talks | Image Credit: earth.org

26 US legislators expressed concern that Azerbaijan’s reliance on fossil fuels and “poor human-rights record” may jeopardise the UN climate negotiations in a letter sent to White House officials.

A group of US congressmen has warned of the dangers involved with designating fossil state Azerbaijan as the host of the forthcoming summit and encouraged White House officials to press for the implementation of conflict of interest criteria for the COP chair.

The 26 signatories expressed their “deep concern” in an open letter to US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Climate Envoy John Podesta regarding the selection of Azeri Ecology Minister Mukhtar Babayev to chair the talks in Baku, Azerbaijan in November. Azerbaijan is the third petrostate to host the talks, following the United Arab Emirates (UAE) in 2022 and Egypt in 2021.

Also Read: Congressmen in the US Are “Very Concerned” That Petrostate Azerbaijan Will Host COP29

Babayev, a member of the ruling right-wing New Azerbaijan Party, worked for more than 20 years at the state-owned oil and gas company Socar, where he also held the position of vice-president for ecology for a brief period of time, prior to his appointment as minister of ecology and natural resources in 2018.

A president of COP has previously had connections to the fossil fuel sector. Sultan Al-Jaber, the chairman of the state-owned Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (Adnoc), which pumps practically all of the crude oil in the United Arab Emirates and produces roughly 3.2 million barrels per day, chaired the extremely contentious COP28 meeting in Dubai last November.

“The majority of the blame for the climate catastrophe, which is already hurting millions of people worldwide, lies with fossil fuel corporations. However, the letter stated that these businesses had an excessive amount of influence at COP. In fact, the UAE allowed access to at least 2,456 lobbyists that supported fossil fuels last year—more than any other country’s delegation in Dubai, save for one. At least 636 individuals with ties to the fossil fuel business were allowed entry to the 2022 COP27 in Glasgow.

According to a BBC and Centre for Climate Reporting (CCR) investigation, the COP28 leadership intended to utilise talks with other nations to press for bargains on petrol and oil. Leaked papers revealed that fossil fuels were discussed in talks between UAE energy corporations and 15 countries before to the summit, despite Al Jaber’s repeated denials of involvement.

The signatories to the letter, which included Congresswomen Jan Schakowsky and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez as well as Senators Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders, and Jeff Merkley, stated that “time is running out, and this international process is too important for the United States to stand by as yet another negotiation is captured by fossil fuel interests.”

The single greatest source of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions worldwide, which are the main causes of global warming because they trap heat in the atmosphere and raise Earth’s surface temperature, is the burning of coal, natural gas, and oil for heat and power. Over the past 50 years, the world’s consumption of fossil fuels has more than quadrupled as nations strive to raise their living standards and economic production. Methane, nitrous oxide, and carbon dioxide (CO2), the three most powerful greenhouse gases, all hit all-time highs in 2023.

The only option to maintain a net-zero emissions scenario that is compatible with 1.5C is, according to the International Energy Agency (IEA), to push nations to stop developing new gas and oil field projects.

Energy Institute - Statistical Review of World Energy (2023); Smil (2017) | Source: earth.org
Energy Institute – Statistical Review of World Energy (2023); Smil (2017) | Source: earth.org

In response to appeals, Azerbaijan’s President Ilham Aliyev declared last month that his nation will boost gas output and keep supplying the EU with gas “for many more years,” as the EU looks to wean itself off of Russian gas. Approximately 12 billion cubic metres, or roughly half of Azerbaijan’s gas supply, were shipped to the EU in 2023. The nation said in December that it would almost quadruple that sum by 2027.

“Europe needs more gas from fresh sources, thus we are primarily investing in boosting our gas output,” Aliyev remarked. As per the IEA, over 90% of the country’s export earnings and 60% of the government’s budget come from oil and gas.

Lawmakers also expressed concern over Azerbaijan’s “very disturbing” record on human rights and its restrictions on free speech. Gender roles, cultural traditions, and societal expectations continue to impact women’s status in Azerbaijani society, despite some progress being made. Challenges and gender inequities nonetheless remain.

An all-male coordinating committee for the summit in November was formed by Azerbaijan shortly after it was established, and this decision was later confirmed in response to growing demands for diversity and inclusivity.

Source:
https://earth.org/us-lawmakers-deeply-concerned-by-appointment-of-petrostate-azerbaijan-to-host-cop29/


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