Activists Call for Process ‘Overhaul’ After Oil Vet Named to Lead COP29

"Azerbaijan named a former state oil executive as the summit’s president, marking the second consecutive year a fossil fuel insider will helm the U.N. climate talks. Climate advocates call it an “enormous conflict of interest.”"

"Azerbaijan has selected its ecology minister—and a former executive at the country’s state-run oil company—to lead the United Nations’ flagship climate conference later this year. The decision has reignited fierce debate over the role the fossil fuel industry should play in global climate talks.

U.N. officials on Friday confirmed the appointment of Mukhtar Babayev as the COP29 president. Babayev ran Azerbaijan’s oil company SOCAR for nearly 25 years before becoming the nation’s minister of ecology and natural resources in 2018.

It’s the second year in a row that an oil industry veteran will oversee the negotiations, which aim to slash climate-warming carbon emissions and transition away from fossil fuels. It’s also the second consecutive year that the talks will be hosted by a petrostate—a country whose economy is heavily reliant on producing oil and gas. COP28 was held in the United Arab Emirates last year. Brazil, which is slated to host COP30 in 2025, will mark the third year.

Climate advocates say the pattern is proof that the U.N. summit’s process is flawed, and many are now calling for “a substantial overhaul” of the COP system, which has allowed countries like Saudi Arabia, Russia and the United States to single-handedly block decisions that otherwise would have passed.

Some activists also criticized the selection of Azerbaijan as this year’s host country. An analysis by U.K.-based advocacy group Global Witness found that oil giant BP and its project partners have invested $35 billion in oil and gas production by Azerbaijan’s government since 2020."

Kristoffer Tigue reports for Inside Climate News January 9, 2024.

Source: Inside Climate News, 01/11/2024