COP29 Host Azerbaijan Accused of Greenwashing – Watts Up With That?

Essay by Eric Worrall

Critics have pointed out their new green energy agency needs a zero carbon transition plan to be credible.

Cop29 host Azerbaijan launches green energy unit to sceptical response 

Published on 25/01/2024, 1:08pm

Azerbaijan’s state oil and gas firm promises a green push but a lack of climate policies and plans to expand gas production are causing scepticism

By Matteo Civillini

Roaming around what is believed to be modern-day Baku over 700 years ago, the explorer Marco Polo gazed with wonder at “a spring from which gushes a stream of oil, in such abundance that a hundred ships may load there at once”.

The birthplace of crude refining, Azerbaijan has embedded fossil fuels in the fabric of its society for centuries. Oil, and more recently, gas have never stopped flowing from the vast reservoirs dotted around the Caspian basin.

But as it gears up to host the Cop29 UN climate summit in November, Azerbaijan wants to show the world a different image. Burnishing its clean energy credentials through its state-owned oil and gas company, Socar, is part of the plan.

“A green division is meaningless for the climate without an accompanying plan to phase out oil and gas”, Myriam Douo, a senior campaigner with Oil Change International, told Climate Home. “The reality is that to avoid catastrophic climate breakdown more than half of fossil fuels in existing fields must stay in the ground”.

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I think greens are being unduly harsh in their criticism of Azerbaijan. A COP conference host country hatching its first ever green plan should be encouraged as baby steps, not sneered at.

Lets not forget, the Azerbaijanis are a considerate people, I’m sure they’ll remember to provide space for a few green workshops in the middle of all the oil, gas and international arms sales negotiations.

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