Azerbaijan and COP29: Pioneering the Path to a Sustainable Future

COP29 serves as a critical juncture for international climate negotiations, and Azerbaijan’s role as host underscores its dedication to addressing global environmental challenges.

In November 2024, the world will turn its eyes to Baku, Azerbaijan, as it hosts the 29th Conference of the Parties (COP29) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). This pivotal event underscores Azerbaijan’s commitment to climate action and sustainability, positioning it as a critical player in the global fight against climate change. The conference aims to build on the successful agreement from the previous year to transition away from fossil fuels, paving the way for countries to unite and create robust plans to mitigate heat-trapping gases.

COP29 serves as a critical juncture for international climate negotiations, and Azerbaijan’s role as host underscores its dedication to addressing global environmental challenges. The conference will bring together government delegations, intergovernmental organizations (IGOs), non-governmental organizations (NGOs), corporations, research institutions, think tanks, international financial institutions, and influential individuals from various sectors worldwide to discuss and formulate strategies for a sustainable future.[1] Azerbaijan’s leadership in this conference is not just symbolic; it represents the country’s tangible efforts in transforming its energy sector and advocating for global climate policies that are inclusive and effective. In this regard, this analysis explores Azerbaijan’s active involvement in COP29, emphasizing its initiatives to foster collaboration between developed and developing countries and its ambitious renewable energy projects. By examining the country’s strategies and achievements, this analysis aims to provide a comprehensive understanding of Azerbaijan’s contribution to the global fight against climate change and its vision for a sustainable future.

Historical Context

Azerbaijan’s energy history is both rich and transformative. Known as the birthplace of the oil industry, it drilled the world’s first oil well in the 1840s and led global oil production in the 1890s.[2] This legacy brought significant economic growth and development, making oil and gas central to the nation’s economy. It is said that Azerbaijan “is one of the most fossil-fuel dependent economies: oil and gas make up 90% of its exports and provide 60% of the government’s budget.”[3] However, recognizing the urgent need for a sustainable future, Azerbaijan has embarked on a transformative journey towards renewable energy.

Since signing the Paris Agreement, Azerbaijan has committed to reducing its greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 35% by 2030 and 40% by 2050. This shift signifies a monumental change for a country heavily reliant on fossil fuels, demonstrating its dedication to combating climate change and fostering a green economy.[4] The transition from a fossil fuel-based economy to one that embraces renewable energy sources marks a significant paradigm shift. It requires robust policy frameworks, substantial investments, and a commitment to technological innovation to achieve these ambitious goals. “We created the special energy zones in the country with renewable energy corridors, and I think it is a priority for Azerbaijan, how the country can use these revenues coming from fossil fuel exports to invest in renewable energy, and not only to do it in our country, but also to assist other countries, and to invite the fossil fuel-producing countries to be more active in this process,” said the COP29 President in this regard.[5]

Azerbaijan’s historical reliance on oil has also positioned it uniquely in the global energy market, making its transition to renewables a subject of international interest. The country’s strategic decisions in energy policy could serve as a model for other oil-dependent nations seeking to diversify their energy portfolios and reduce carbon emissions. This historical context provides a backdrop for understanding the significance of Azerbaijan’s current initiatives and its role in COP29.

Azerbaijan’s Role in COP29

Azerbaijan’s leadership in COP29 is a testament to its evolving role in climate diplomacy. The conference in Baku aims to enhance ambition and enable action on a global scale.

Moreover, Azerbaijan’s commitment to integrating sustainable practices into its national development strategy underscores the country’s proactive approach. By investing in renewable energy sources and innovative technologies, Azerbaijan is not only addressing its own environmental challenges but also contributing to global sustainability goals. This holistic approach demonstrates that economic growth and environmental stewardship can go hand in hand.

Guided by the “Azerbaijan 2030: National Priorities for Socio-Economic Development” approved by the Decree of the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan in 2021 and taking into account the UN Sustainable Development Goals, Azerbaijan has charted a course towards a sustainable and inclusive future. The national priorities emphasize the importance of fostering a diversified economy, enhancing human capital, and promoting social welfare, all while ensuring environmental sustainability.

This strategic vision is reflected in Azerbaijan’s ambitious renewable energy projects, which aim to significantly increase the share of renewables in the national energy mix. By harnessing its abundant solar and wind resources, Azerbaijan is setting an example for other nations in the region. These efforts not only reduce greenhouse gas emissions but also create new economic opportunities and jobs, contributing to the overall prosperity of the nation.

Furthermore, Azerbaijan’s approach to climate action includes robust policies and initiatives aimed at preserving biodiversity, enhancing water management, and promoting sustainable agriculture. These measures are crucial in building resilience against the adverse effects of climate change, ensuring food security, and protecting the natural environment for future generations.

The goals for COP29 are clear: to establish a new global target for climate finance, support vulnerable countries, and ensure that all parties commit to ambitious national plans. This conference also presents an opportunity for Azerbaijan to showcase its green energy transition and inspire other nations to follow suit. By demonstrating its leadership and commitment, Azerbaijan aims to build a legacy of effective climate action and international cooperation.

Azerbaijan’s strategic initiatives at COP29 include facilitating dialogues that bridge the gap between developed and developing countries. This approach is crucial in ensuring that all nations, regardless of their economic status, are able to contribute effectively to global climate goals. By promoting inclusive and equitable climate policies, Azerbaijan is positioning itself as a leader in global environmental governance.

Renewable Energy Initiatives in Azerbaijan

Azerbaijan’s renewable energy potential is immense, encompassing wind, solar, and hydro resources. The country has set ambitious targets to generate 30% of its electricity from renewable sources by 2030. Key projects include the 230 MW Garadagh Solar PV Plant[6] and the Mingachevir Hydroelectric Power Plant,[7] which play critical roles in this transition.

Wind energy, both onshore and offshore, presents significant opportunities for Azerbaijan. With an estimated 3 GW of onshore and 157 GW of offshore wind potential, the country is well-positioned to become a leader in wind power.[8] “Hydropower accounts for about 10% of the country’s domestic annual electricity generation. About 25% of the country’s freshwater resources are concentrated in the Karabakh and East Zangazur regions, making hydropower a critical part of achieving the 2050 Net Zero target in these designated Green Energy Zones.”[9] In 2023, Collaborative projects regarding green energy with international companies like UAE’s global renewables company Masdar, ADNOC, ACWA Power, TEPSCO, BP, and China Gezhouba Group Overseas Investment in order to implement renewable energy projects in the country were signed, which shows a strong commitment to expanding its renewable energy capacity.[10]

The Green Energy Transition Plan highlights Azerbaijan’s strategy to diversify its energy mix and reduce its reliance on fossil fuels. By investing in renewable energy, Azerbaijan aims to create a sustainable and resilient energy system, boosting economic growth while protecting the environment. This comprehensive approach includes not only the development of renewable energy infrastructure but also the integration of advanced technologies and innovative solutions to enhance energy efficiency and sustainability. In this regard, Ilham Aliyev, President of the Republic of Azerbaijan, highlighted during the International Forum dedicated to COP29 at ADA University on 23 April 2024 that “Last October, we inaugurated the first 240-megawatt solar power plant, and this year, we will see the ground-breaking ceremony for four more solar and wind power plants with a total capacity of 1,300 megawatts. So, that will make our potential 1.5 or even more. But this is only the beginning because we have an enormous potential of wind, offshore and onshore, as well as solar energy, plus we add hydro. Only in Karabakh and Eastern Zangezur, the capacity of the hydropower stations has reached close to 170 megawatts in the last three years, and this is only the beginning.”[11]

The government’s proactive stance on renewable energy is reflected in its policies and incentives designed to attract foreign investment and foster local innovation. These initiatives are aimed at creating a robust renewable energy sector that can drive economic growth, generate employment, and reduce environmental impacts. Azerbaijan’s renewable energy strategy is a cornerstone of its broader economic and environmental goals, demonstrating a clear path towards a sustainable future.

Financial Aspects of Climate Action

Climate finance is crucial for enabling countries to implement effective climate actions. At COP29, Azerbaijan will play a vital role in facilitating discussions on financial support for developing nations. The aim is to set a new collective quantified goal for climate finance, ensuring that adequate resources are mobilized to help vulnerable countries reduce emissions and adapt to climate impacts.

Azerbaijan’s efforts to enhance transparency and accountability are essential in building trust between donors and recipients. By demonstrating progress in reducing emissions and efficiently using climate finance, developing countries can strengthen their case for increased support. Azerbaijan’s leadership in this area is crucial in ensuring that climate finance mechanisms are effective and equitable.

Azerbaijan’s approach to climate finance involves not only advocating for increased funding but also ensuring that these funds are used effectively and transparently. This includes setting up robust monitoring and reporting systems to track the impact of climate finance on emission reductions and adaptation efforts. By leading by example, Azerbaijan aims to inspire confidence in the international community and promote greater financial commitments towards global climate goals.

Bridging Global Divides

Azerbaijan’s strategic position as a bridge between the Global South and North is central to its role in COP29.[12] The country’s initiatives to support Small Island Developing States (SIDS) and other vulnerable regions exemplify its commitment to global solidarity. The partnership with Kenya, and the focus on supporting SIDS at the SIDS4 conference, highlight Azerbaijan’s efforts to foster international cooperation. Regarding this Elshad Iskandarov, Special Envoy of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Azerbaijan, emphasized President Ilham Aliyev’s initiative to establish a special fund to support small island states. He pointed out that the growing populations in these regions are particularly vulnerable to both climate change and conflicts. He highlighted that the event organized by Azerbaijan’s COP29 Presidency aims to provide an effective strategy and practical support for these communities.[13]

These initiatives aim to address the unique challenges faced by vulnerable countries, providing them with the resources and support needed to combat climate change. Azerbaijan’s proactive approach in building partnerships and promoting inclusive dialogue sets a positive example for other nations. By leveraging its geopolitical position, Azerbaijan is working to ensure that the voices of the most affected and least heard in climate negotiations are amplified and addressed.

The efforts to bridge global divides are not only about providing financial and technical support but also about fostering a sense of shared responsibility and collective action. Azerbaijan’s leadership in this area underscores the importance of global cooperation and solidarity in addressing the multifaceted challenges of climate change. By promoting inclusive and equitable climate policies, Azerbaijan is helping to build a more united and effective global response to environmental challenges.

Challenges and Opportunities

The selection of Baku as the host city for COP29 is a significant milestone, especially considering the ongoing peace process between Armenia and Azerbaijan. The region has been marked by geopolitical tensions and recent conflicts, making the hosting of such a high-profile international event both a challenge and an opportunity. The instability in the region can complicate logistics, security, and the broader diplomatic atmosphere surrounding the conference. However, COP29 presents a unique opportunity to leverage climate diplomacy as a tool for fostering regional peace and cooperation. By focusing on common environmental goals and collaborative efforts to combat climate change, Armenia and Azerbaijan can find a platform for dialogue and reconciliation. The emphasis on climate justice and finance at COP29 could serve as a bridge to promote regional stability, demonstrating that shared environmental concerns can transcend political differences. Regarding the peace process between Armenia and Azerbaijan and COP29, President Ilham Aliyev highlighted that “COP29 in Azerbaijan is a result of the resolution of the conflict and progress on a peace track… I think that this agenda will lead to strengthening of security measures in the Caucasus, I mean, in the Southern Caucasus in general, and will create opportunities for at least consultations among three Southern Caucasian countries, which lead the way to future cooperation.”[14]

COP29 provides a platform for Azerbaijan to promote regional cooperation and peacebuilding through climate action. The conference’s focus on finance and climate justice aligns with the broader goals of sustainable development and regional stability. By positioning itself as a leader in climate diplomacy, Azerbaijan can advocate for collaborative efforts to address environmental challenges and promote peace in the South Caucasus region. The successful resolution of regional conflicts and the establishment of peace agreements can create new opportunities for cooperation and development, fostering a more stable and prosperous future. In this regard Elshad Iskandarov also highlighted that one of Azerbaijan’s key priorities during its COP29 Presidency is to support international peace and security. He mentioned that, at the direction of President Ilham Aliyev, “work is underway with international partners on the unprecedented COP Ceasefire Appeal a first in the history of climate conferences.”[15]

Azerbaijan has also set ambitious goals for its green transition, including significant investments in renewable energy and a commitment to reducing its carbon footprint. Azerbaijan’s journey towards a green transition is marked by its historical dependency on fossil fuels. The country’s economy has significantly benefited from oil and gas revenues, which have funded development projects and social programs. However, this dependency also poses a challenge as Azerbaijan seeks to transition to renewable energy sources. The shift requires substantial investments in renewable energy infrastructure, technological innovation, and policy reforms to support sustainable energy development. The government’s ability to manage this transition while maintaining economic stability will be a critical factor in the success of its climate ambitions.

The transition to renewable energy and the mobilization of climate finance present significant opportunities for economic diversification and sustainable growth in Azerbaijan. By investing in renewable energy projects, the country can reduce its reliance on fossil fuels, create new industries, and generate green jobs. The development of a robust renewable energy sector can drive economic growth, attract international investments, and position Azerbaijan as a leader in the global green economy. Furthermore, the successful implementation of climate finance initiatives can support sustainable development projects, enhance resilience to climate impacts, and improve the overall quality of life for its citizens.

The challenges and opportunities associated with COP29 for Azerbaijan are intertwined with its geopolitical, economic, and environmental contexts. While the ongoing tensions with Armenia and the dependency on fossil fuels pose significant hurdles, the conference offers a unique platform to address these challenges through collaborative climate action and diplomacy. By securing adequate financial commitments, implementing ambitious green transition plans, and fostering regional cooperation, Azerbaijan can solidify its role as a leader in climate action. The successful hosting of COP29 can inspire other countries to follow its path, demonstrating that meaningful progress on climate goals is achievable through concerted efforts and international collaboration.


As Baku prepares to host COP29, Azerbaijan’s role in global climate action comes into sharper focus. The nation’s commitment to reducing greenhouse gas emissions, transitioning to renewable energy, and fostering international cooperation underscores its dedication to a sustainable future. Azerbaijan’s historical reliance on fossil fuels and its ambitious green transition initiatives serve as a powerful narrative of transformation and leadership.

By hosting COP29, Azerbaijan is not only showcasing its own climate efforts but also providing a platform for global dialogue and collaboration. The emphasis on climate finance, transparency, and support for vulnerable countries highlights the need for a united approach to tackling climate change. Azerbaijan’s efforts to bridge the gap between developed and developing nations and its proactive stance on renewable energy set a positive example for other countries to follow.

Despite the challenges posed by geopolitical tensions and economic dependencies, Azerbaijan’s vision for a sustainable future remains clear. The successful hosting of COP29 could mark a turning point, demonstrating that meaningful climate action is possible through shared goals and collective effort. By leading the charge in climate diplomacy and green energy, Azerbaijan is paving the way for a more resilient and equitable world.

As the global community gathers in Baku, the decisions made and the actions taken will reverberate far beyond Azerbaijan’s borders. The legacy of COP29 will be measured not only by the agreements reached but also by the lasting impact on climate policies and international cooperation. Azerbaijan’s leadership at this critical juncture serves as a reminder that with determination and collaboration, a sustainable and prosperous future is within reach.

The success of COP29 could serve as a catalyst for a new era of environmental consciousness and action, encouraging other countries to follow suit. The collective efforts of nations at this pivotal conference could lead to groundbreaking advancements in climate science, policy, and implementation.

Ultimately, the impact of COP29 will be a testament to the power of international solidarity and the ability to overcome obstacles through cooperation and shared vision. Azerbaijan’s role in this historic event highlights the importance of multilateralism in the pursuit of a sustainable future for all.

[1] “Partner with Us at COP29,” The Economist; Accessed June10, 2024.

[2] Seth Borenstein, “Next UN climate talks are critical to plot aid for poorer nations, says incoming president,” QUARTZ, April 19, 2024; Accessed June10, 2024.

[3] Fiona Harvey, “Cop29 at a crossroads in Azerbaijan with focus on climate finance,” The Guardian, May 17, 2024; Accessed June10, 2024.

[4] Shahmar Hajiyev, “Azerbaijan speeds up the green transition by hosting the COP29 UN Climate Change Conference,” NEWS.AZ, February 26, 2024; Accessed June10, 2024.

[5] Robert Andre Emmanuel, “COP29 President Designate speaks on supporting SIDS voices at climate summit,” Observer, May 29, 2024; Accessed June10, 2024.

[6] “Solar,” COP29; Accessed June10, 2024.

[7] “Hydro,” COP29; Accessed June10, 2024.

[8] “Wind,” COP29; Accessed June10, 2024.

[9] “Hydro,” COP29; Accessed June10, 2024.

[10] Shahmar Hajiyev, “Azerbaijan speeds up the green transition by hosting the COP29 UN Climate Change Conference.”

[11] “Ilham Aliyev attended the International Forum “COP29 and Green Vision for Azerbaijan,”, April 23, 2024; Accessed June11, 2024.

[12] Sultan Hajiyev, “COP29: Why Azerbaijan is seeking partnerships with countries with limited connections and partnerships,” The Standart;\. Accessed June11, 2024.

[13] Elgun Niftali, “Azerbaijan`s COP29 Presidency holds event as part of Bonn Climate Change Conference,” AZERTAC, June 6, 2024; Accessed June11, 2024.

[14] “Ilham Aliyev attended the International Forum “COP29 and Green Vision for Azerbaijan.”

[15] “Azerbaijan’s COP29 Focus on Peace and Climate Nexus Receives Praise at the UN Climate Conference,” COP29, June 5, 2024; Accessed June11, 2024.

Dr.Ceyhun Osmanli
Dr.Ceyhun Osmanli
Dr. Ceyhun Osmanli is a former Member of Parliament, Researcher and Analyst on International Relations and Political Economy, Director of TLM – Initiatives and Projects Center in Azerbaijan