COP29: Azerbaijan appoints former oil executive as climate conference president

Photo: IISD/ENB | Mike Muzurakis

Yesterday (4 January), the COP28 presidency account on social media platform X announced Babayev as the President-Designate of COP29, alongside HE Yalchin Rafiyev, appointed as the Lead Negotiator of COP29.

Since 2018, Babayev has been in position as the Minister of Ecology and Natural Resources of Azerbaijan Republic.

Prior to his ministerial role, Babayev worked in the Department of Foreign Economic Relations of the State Oil Company of the Republic of Azerbaijan (SOCAR).

Azerbaijan, historically linked to the oil industry’s origins, follows the UAE from last year and Egypt in 2022 as the third consecutive oil and gas exporter to host the UN Climate Conference.

During the COP28 summit in Dubai last year, more than 2000 lobbyists representing the fossil fuel industry were given access, indicating an unprecedented level of involvement in the climate talks, according to an analysis from the Kick Big Polluters Out (KBPO) coalition.

With Babayev appointed as the President-Designate and his ties to the oil sector, there are concerns that discussions reminiscent of Al Jaber’s COP28 presidency will resurface, focusing on the influence of fossil fuel industry participants in shaping the COP outcomes.

Global Witness’ fossil fuels campaign leader Alice Harrison said: “There’s a sense of déjà vu setting in – we now have a former oil executive from an authoritarian petrostate in charge of the world’s response to the crisis that fossil fuel firms created.

“We again call for the UNFCCC to urgently intervene to ensure the talks are held in good faith.”

Action inspires action. Stay ahead of the curve with sustainability and energy newsletters from edie