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Navigating COP29: Global dialogue on climate action [EXCLUSIVE]

19 April 2024 08:30 (UTC+04:00)
Navigating COP29: Global dialogue on climate action [EXCLUSIVE]
Ulviyya Shahin
Ulviyya Shahin
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The 29th session of the Conference of the Parties (COP29) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) will be held in Azerbaijan in 2024.

The main purpose of this event is to evaluate progress in combating climate change worldwide. Since the mid-1990s, discussions within this framework conference have focused on the Kyoto Protocol, which contains mandatory legal obligations regarding the limitation of emissions of greenhouse gases from developed countries.

In sessions held between 2011 and 2015, the Paris Agreement, considered the most significant international document in the fight against climate change, was discussed and adopted in 2015. To date, 195 countries, including Azerbaijan, have joined this agreement.

With British expert Neil Watson's vast expertise, Azernews aims to shed some light on the readiness of nations to address pressing climate issues, the potential impact of COP on global unemployment, innovative proposals for reducing fossil fuel dependency, Azerbaijan's role as the host nation, and the support needed for its mission.

Azernews presents the interview:

Q. Dear Neil Watson, as we know, COP is an international event dedicated to discussing climate change issues with the participation of world countries and finding solutions to similar problems. The readiness of world countries to address these issues is the most pressing issue. So, do you think the world is ready for this?

A. COP29 is an extremely important event for the entire world, as climate change impacts us all, regardless of geography or religion, and all the world’s eyes will be on Baku, the host. The question is whether the world is prepared for this transition. The world is in recession for numerous factors, not least the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, the ramifications of the Russo-Ukrainian conflict, the immigration crisis, and the division between the first and third worlds is exacerbating. Without western assistance, there is no way that new technologies and infrastructure, particularly related to energy generation and implementation of electric vehicles, can be rolled out across Africa, Asia, Latin America and much of the post-Soviet space. The countries lack the economies to undertake this themselves, and western economies have shrunk. Furthermore, such issues as the interlinked Russian and Iranian threats and re-emergence of ISIS are dominating the news agenda. I cannot believe that all countries will achieve the COP targets without serious decisions being made.

Q. World experts are quite optimistic about the COP event. In your opinion, what exceptional significance can this international event have in reducing unemployment worldwide?

A. Climate change will cause some unemployment, particularly amongst those engaged in traditional oil and gas exploitation and transportation. However, it will create jobs regarding the construction and maintenance of new energy infrastructure; the production and sale of new electric vehicles at an earlier stage than is normally necessary; and the production, installation and maintenance of renewable energy technologies etc. It’s impossible to estimate how many jobs will be lost and how many will created, but I would assess that more jobs will be created than lost.

Q. Currently, many countries in the world are dependent on fossil fuels, and it is possible to gradually reduce this dependency. What new proposals do you think COP29 could put forward on this issue?

A. I am of the view that there is a greater need for holistic and joined up thinking, taking into account all aspects of ending fossil fuel dependence and transitioning to new methods. Hydrocarbons have had a very negative impact on the environment and human psychology, which is naturally driven by greed. We need to step away from greenwashing old technologies or aspects of new technologies that have their own environmental impacts. It’s imperative that political gain, national divisions and the desire to retain super-normal profits are set aside so that new technologies can benefit from the economies of scale and replication across the world. Climate change impacts us all and carbon-neutrality will benefit us all.

Q. How is Azerbaijan's role evaluated on a global scale regarding the organization of COP29?

A. As I said earlier, the eyes of the world will be on Baku, as COP29 host. The organisation must not be ostentatious and must be aligned with the minimization of environmental impact. This is an opportunity for Azerbaijan to transform its image away from being a hydrocarbons producer; end accusations of being a ‘poacher turned gamekeeper’, as was the case with Dubai, the previous host; and to reassert its ownership of Karabakh in the eyes of the world, not least as the reconstruction in the liberated territories will take the form of Smart towns and cities.

Q. What support do you believe Azerbaijan requires to sustain its mission?

A. Azerbaijan needs fulsome support from all countries, as it hosts COP29 whilst simultaneously entering a post-war scenario and striking a bilateral peace deal with Armenia. All participating countries – including Armenia, which endorsed Azerbaijani hosting the event and will send a delegation – need to step away from their political and profit-driven agendas and take serious steps and make realisable and holistic pledges that will achieve the ideals of COP29.


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