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Azerbaijan appoints no women to 28-member COP29 climate committee

The organising committee for the Cop29 global climate change summit in Azerbaijan in December comprises 28 men and no women, the president of Azerbaijan, Ilham Aliyev, has announced.

The decision was called “regressive” by the She Changes Climate campaign group, which said “climate change affects the whole world, not half of it”. In contrast, 63% of the members of the organising committee for the Cop28 climate summit, held in the United Arab Emirates last month, were women.

Almost all members of the Cop29 committee are government ministers or officials, including the head of the state security service. The head of Azerbaijan’s state gas distribution network is also on the committee.

In a statement, She Changes Climate said: “This [committee] is a regressive step in the journey towards gender parity in climate; but there is still time for change. We ask for equal representation in the governance of this year’s climate talks, because climate change affects the whole world, not half of it.”

For the second year in a row, the UN’s most important climate talks will be hosted by a petro-state heavily reliant on fossil fuel production. The Cop29 president-designate, who will be responsible for bringing together countries to drive climate action, is Mukhtar Babayev, the minister of ecology and natural resources.

Babayev previously spent 26 years working for the State Oil Company of the Azerbaijan Republic (Socar). Azerbaijan plans to increase its fossil fuel production by a third over the next decade, the Guardian revealed last week.

“We once again ask for a firewall between the fossil fuel industry and the Cop presidency as environmental integrity remains a concern for us and many civil society organisations,” said She Changes Climate.

Scientists say a rapid fall in fossil fuel burning is vital to avoid the worst impacts of the climate crisis and 2023 was the hottest year on record by a huge margin.

The Cop28 president was Sultan Al Jaber, who was also the chief executive of the UAE’s state oil company, Adnoc, which led to accusations of conflicts of interest.

Al Jaber’s angry comments during an exchange with Mary Robinson, the chair of the Elders group of statespeople, at a She Changes Climate event caused uproar at Cop28 after being revealed by the Guardian. He said there was “no science” indicating that a phaseout of fossil fuels was needed to restrict global heating to 1.5C above pre-industrial levels, and that a phaseout would not allow sustainable development “unless you want to take the world back into caves”.

Oisín Coghlan, the chief executive of Friends of the Earth Ireland, posted on X: “Sweet Holy Jesus. 28 men 0 women to organise Cop29. Calling Mary Robinson of @TheElders: there’s another sultan-type we need you to have a word with.”

Cop28 delivered an agreement by the world’s nations to transition away from fossil fuels, the first time the cause of the climate crisis had been mentioned in a decision text. After Cop28, Al Jaber said he would continue with his oil company’s expansion of oil and gas production.


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