Surprise! At last two fossil fuel-producing nations who signed on to the COP28 agreement have started behaving badly.
First up, there’s Azerbaijan, which — get this — is host of the next climate confab, COP29, due to take place in November. Yup, the major oil and gas producer has announced that it plans to increase its gas production by about a third, according to reporting obtained by The Guardian.
The gusher will come from the Shah Deniz area in the adjoining Caspian Sea, which is one of the world’s largest gas fields. The country, which has a poor humanitarian record and an authoritarian government, is expected to extract enough gas over the next 10 years, according to data sourced by the campaign group Global Witness, to emit 781m tonnes of carbon dioxide — more than two times the annual carbon emissions of the United Kingdom.
The government, which has been controlled by the Aliyev family since 1993, last week appointed a former executive of its state oil and gas company, Mukhtar Babayev, to be president of COP29. He became Azerbaijan’s ecology and natural resources minister in 2018, after a 26-year career at oil and gas company Socar.
As they say in New York, oy vey.
And then there’s Saudi Arabia, whose energy minister says that the COP28 agreement to get away from fossil fuels is just a “choice” that’s part of “an a la carte menu.”
Yes, maybe hard to believe, but Abdulaziz bin Salman, at a forum in the Saudi capital, Riyadh, gestured on stage to an image displaying the text of the final COP communique, and declared that “all of these eight items you have in front of you are choices — that’s why I call it a la carte,” according to Climate Home News.
To justify this interpretation, the outlet reported, he pointed to phrases in like “nationally determined” and “taking into account the Paris Agreement and their different national circumstances.”
E3G analyst Tom Evans, who followed the talks closely, told Climate Home News that Bin Salman’s framing was “incredibly misleading”.
“The text is very clear that these are global efforts — that means everyone, including Saudi Arabia, signed up to transitioning away from fossil fuels, it’s not a pick and mix,” he added.
Oy vey again.