Mar 20, 2024 - Energy & Environment

"There is this fatigue:" Top official wants next UN climate summit to be lean

Photo illustration of Elnur Soltanov surrounded by giant abstract shapes of check boxes and X's.

COP29 CEO Elnur Soltanov. Photo illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios. Photo: Mark Felix/AFP via Getty Images

HOUSTON — A top organizer of the upcoming United Nations climate summit wants a relatively lean agenda for the late-year event.

Why it matters: New remarks by COP29 CEO Elnur Soltanov offer an early look at Azerbaijan's plans for the critical talks.

What he's saying: "We believe that there is this fatigue, sometimes, regarding how many issues we have," Soltanov told reporters on the sidelines of the CERAWeek by S&P Global conference.

  • It's about "focusing on issues on which we can deliver," said Soltanov, currently Azerbaijan's deputy minister of energy.
  • In similar remarks on a panel, he said the goal is roughly 10+ key topics.
  • Soltanov said he's not trying to prevent stakeholder expression or viewpoints, touting the value of the "global market of green ideas."

The big picture: Goals include "speeding up the response" to the COP28 deal; Among other things, the accord called for "just, orderly and equitable" transition from fossil fuels.

  • Soltanov talked up implementing and building on two key COP28 targets: tripling renewable energy capacity and doubling the pace of efficiency improvements by 2030.
  • He floated extending it to new areas, like adding a grid-scale storage "dimension" to help integrate variable renewables.
  • He's also interested in regional "green corridors" for "green electrons," like connecting the Caspian region to the EU.

Catch up quick: Via S&P Global Platts, COP29 President-designate Mukhtar Babayev said he's already speaking with financial institutions and others on climate finance.

  • And in a Guardian op-ed, Babayev touted his work with the "troika" of last year's host (UAE) and next year's (Brazil). The goal is to ensure COPs move away from "staging grand announcements," and toward "continuity through monitoring and implementation."

The intrigue: Azerbaijan is an oil and gas producer. The choice of a UAE oil exec to lead last year's COP, location of the summit in a far larger producer, and industry involvement all drew criticism.

  • Soltanov sought to reframe the topic. "Every country is an oil country, either on the supply side or the demand side," he told CERAWeek.
  • "We are all together in it. The entire architecture of the global economy needs to transition."

What's next: The Copenhagen Climate Ministerial later this week, featuring the COP28 and COP29 heads, should provide more info about the path ahead.

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