Need to agree on an ambitious, fair new goal on climate finance: COP29 president | Latest News India - Hindustan Times
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Need to agree on an ambitious, fair new goal on climate finance: COP29 president

ByJayashree Nandi
Jun 02, 2024 06:48 AM IST

As unprecedented extreme weather grips the planet with deadly heatwaves, COP29 president Mukhtar Babayev’s job is to raise ambition of countries to lower greenhouse gas emissions at the conference to held in Baku, Azerbaijan’s capital, in November.

Mukhtar Babayev, president- designate of the 2024 UN climate summit, has one of the most difficult tasks at hand this year. As unprecedented extreme weather grips the planet with deadly heatwaves, marine heat stress, floods and droughts, and global warming reaching dangerously close to the 1.5 degrees C threshold, his job is to raise ambition of countries to lower greenhouse gas emissions at the 29th Conference of Parties (COP29) to held in Baku, Azerbaijan’s capital, in November.

Mukhtar Babayev, president- designate of the 2024 UN climate summit, has one of the most difficult tasks at hand this year.
Mukhtar Babayev, president- designate of the 2024 UN climate summit, has one of the most difficult tasks at hand this year.

Babayev is Azerbaijan’s environment minister and former official of the country’s state oil company SOCAR. His job is to get a new climate finance deal agreed on so that developing countries’ needs to transition to low carbon economies are met. He acknowledges that its a tough job but a strong climate finance deal will be on top on the COP29 agenda and would determine the summit’s success. Edited excerpts from an interview:

What are the outcomes key in making COP29 a success?

Our plan to make COP29 a success in November is built on two pillars, each one supporting the other. One of these mutually reinforcing pillars aims to encourage all countries to raise their ambition on climate action, while the other creates the conditions that enable effective action by agreeing on a new goal for climate finance.

To avoid the catastrophic consequences of global warming, each country needs to move further, faster. That means creating a new round of national climate plans in which each country sets out its path to reduce emissions, adapt to a warming planet, and report on their progress. To support developing countries in raising their ambition, we need to unlock climate finance so that they can invest in that journey. That is why we need to agree a fair and ambitious new goal on climate finance.

Achieving these two things - raising all countries’ ambitions on climate action and putting in place the finance to enable those ambitions – will be at the heart of COP29’s success.

The new collective quantified goal (NCQG) that is on the agenda is contentious since developed and developing countries have differing views. How will you bridge the differences?

Climate finance negotiations are some of the most difficult in international diplomacy. We understand there are strong and well-founded views on all sides that we are working intensively to bridge. India has been an important voice in the climate finance conversation and we appreciate the country’s transparent and productive participation in the global discussion. As one of the world’s largest countries and economies, India is integral to meeting our collective climate action goals and it will be vital that climate finance works for India.

It is expected that parties will have different views on these important topics. We are committed to running a transparent process that brings these tensions to the surface and finds productive ways forward towards consensus.

the US has said NCQG should be voluntary for those who wish to pay. What are your views on that?

At this point, I would refrain from commenting on the positions of individual parties. However, concern over this issue is an indication of the work that still must be done to build greater trust between the parties. The importance of building this confidence and trust between developed and developing countries is something India has emphasized in its own submissions, and something we are working to achieve as a presidency.

Azerbaijan is an oil and gas producer. What are your views on just transition?

In Azerbaijan, we are feeling the effects of climate change and seizing the many opportunities of the energy transition and exporting renewable energy abroad. Azerbaijan recognizes the importance of clean and renewable energy production and is investing heavily in this sector. We will support the rights of all states to meet the rising needs of a growing and developing global population. While energy must be more sustainable, it must also be affordable and reliable; otherwise the transition won’t be just and equitable.

As my President (Ilham Aliyev) has said, we believe countries rich in natural resources should be at the forefront of addressing climate change. They have an important role to play to tackle the problem like every other nation. It is only together and with everybody on board that we can address a challenge of such magnitude.

New analyses suggest we are likely to breach the 1.5 degree goal within a decade or so. How will you push for upgrading of nationally determined contributions?

The world needs to urgently upgrade its ambition on climate. Climate change is having negative consequences on people and the environment. We can see the dangerous impacts in India and across Asia, for example, as heatwaves fuelled by climate change have reached dangerous levels this spring. And this will only worsen unless we take strong, decisive action now; it has been projected that by 2050, nearly 150 million people in India could be living in severe hot spots where climate change impacts living standards. There is no time to waste.

We are encouraging each country to produce 1.5 aligned nationally determined contributions (NDCs) in light of national circumstances. The COP29 presidency is supporting the parties to submit the next generation of NDCs.

If we ensure these plans are ambitious and based on a solid foundation, they will have sent out a strong signal of our commitment to act. They can serve as country owned visions for sustainable and resilient development in which we can invest, and they can be used as guides for international partners and the private sector.

What are your views on NCQG? How do you see the new goal shaping up?

I’m optimistic about our prospects of reaching a consensus on NCQG. We now need to move from the technical to the political level, intensify high-level engagement and accelerate efforts to find solutions.

From my exchanges with global leaders in recent months, it is clear the ambition and willingness are there. Countries are united in the understanding that the final text must align with the spirit of the Paris Agreement, and that we need to act now to build a greener, more sustainable future. While there is still a long way to go ahead of COP29, we are working closely with all parties of the UNFCCC to make the NCQG a reality.

Azerbaijan is a developing country. How will you raise the issues and concerns of developing countries in the meeting?

Fairly including the concerns and views of developing countries is top of mind for us in our presidency. It is a priority in everything we do. We have firsthand knowledge of the challenges faced by many nations as they balance their own development and how to adapt to warming climate. Water shortages, desertification and soil degradation are putting our agricultural sector at risk. Agriculture represents 36% of total employment in Azerbaijan – that is significant- and that is what makes climate change such an existential threat.

We believe this experience gives us the understanding and authority required to serve as a bridge between developed and developing nations. We fully recognise the disproportionate effects that climate change is having on many developing nations, exacerbating their existing economic and societal vulnerabilities. It’s essential that we acknowledge such perspectives and create a conducive environment to discuss them with all parties for sustainable solutions.

The COP29 presidency has spent the past months meeting officials from across the world, from small island nations and least developed countries, who are some of the most vulnerable to the effects of climate change, to larger economies that are essential to meeting our collective climate ambitions. We want to give everyone a seat at the table, listen to concerns and priorities unique to their socioeconomic and geographic situations, regardless of the size of economy or population.

Those discussions have included important engagement with the delegation from India. Lead negotiator Yalchin Rafiyev recently met with Leena Nandan, secretary of the India’s environment ministry, to discuss a range of topics in advance of COP29. We look forward to continuing to engage with India both bilaterally and as part of the multilateral process.

India and Azerbaijan have a longstanding relationship that stretches back at least as far as the Silk Road and has only grown stronger in recent years through economic and cultural exchange. I travelled to India in my capacity as co-chair of the Azerbaijan-India Intergovernmental Economic Commission and can attest firsthand to the ecological beauty of the country. We are committed to making sure that all voices, including India, are included fully at COP29.

What are the other important issues on the agenda at COP29?

We want to ensure that countries on the frontlines of climate change, such as India, are actively engaged and heard in discussions. Nations experiencing desertification, extreme heat, flooding and other weather extremes, have unique threats that need attention. We are focusing on giving everyone a voice at COP, and that of course includes smaller countries.

As for the expected numbers, we are still finalizing details, but we are preparing to welcome all parties, alongside other actors such as civil society groups, the private sector, and multilateral organizations. We have recently launched our accommodations platform and preparations are continuing at full speed. We are excited to welcome the world to Baku in November.

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