DUBAI, United Arab Emirates —
DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) – For years, climate change has been a cause – not the only – of wars and conflicts. Now, for the first time, it is part of a peace treaty.
A long-running standoff that turned the election to host next year’s United Nations climate summit into a soap opera and a mystery has been solved as part of a prisoner exchange between Azerbaijan and Armenia. That leaves the table set for the 2024 COP29 climate forum to take place in a city where one of the first oil fields was developed some 1,200 years ago: Baku, Azerbaijan.
It also means that an oil powerhouse will host the climate summit – which usually focuses on phasing out fossil fuels – for the second year in a row. And this is the third year in a row that the UN will hold its main conference, where protests and civil participation are always at the center, in a country with restrictions on freedom of expression.
In 2021, the COP was held in Glasgow, the city where the modern steam engine was built and where the industrial revolution began.
“It’s quite ironic,” said veteran COP analyst Alden Meyer of the European think tank E3G.
Climate historian Joanna Depledge, of Cambridge University, said: “There’s nothing inherently wrong with that. On the contrary, this is where change is needed. “
“The fact that they want to act and become climate leaders is an important step,” said Ani Dasgupta, director of the World Resources Institute and a former resident of Baku. “How do they do this? We don’t know yet”.
It is also about peace. In their announcement of an exchange of prisoners, the governments of Armenia and Azerbaijan wrote: “As a show of goodwill, the Republic of Armenia supports the candidacy of the Republic of Azerbaijan to host the 29th Session of the Conference of Parties… by withdrawing his own candidacy.”
Climate change often causes droughts, crop failures and other extreme weather events that influence wars from sub-Saharan Africa to Syria, Dasgupta said. So it’s good for climate change to be on the side of peace for the first time, he added.
This month’s meeting in Dubai was planned more than two years in advance, while the decision on the Baku summit was made just 11 months before the scheduled start.