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UN Climate Summit’s COP29 hosts say they’ll keep expanding fossil fuels – Azerbaijan’s president declared his country’s gas reserves are a ‘gift of the gods’

The incoming president of the COP29 UN climate summit in Azerbaijan told AFP on Friday that his country would keep increasing fossil fuel production “in parallel” with investments in cleaner alternatives.

Mukhtar Babayev defended his country’s hosting of the world’s most important  summit despite its surging natural gas exports, even as UN chief Antonio Guterres renewed calls this week for countries to “phase out” fossil fuels.

In an exclusive interview in Bonn with AFP, the COP29 organizers said they would also call for a “COP truce” and ask nations to observe a conflict ceasefire during the marathon negotiations in Baku in November.

It comes as diplomats are meeting in the German city this week and next to take stock of global climate action, including a pledge made at last year’s COP in the United Arab Emirates to transition away from .

Environmental activists have expressed dismay that the climate talks are being held a second year running in a nation committed to developing even more of the fuels most responsible for causing global warming.

Azerbaijan’s president recently described his country’s gas reserves as a “gift of the gods” and pledged to defend other fossil-fuel economies wanting to extract more oil and gas.

Gas and green

Babayev, a former oil executive turned ecology minister, said Azerbaijan was a gas-exporting nation and they would keep ramping up production to meet demand.

This includes from the European Union, he said, which signed major gas contracts with the former Soviet nation after the outbreak of the Ukraine war caused an energy crisis.

“We are planning in several years (to) increase the volumes of natural gas but, at the same time, our renewable energy projects,” Babayev told AFP.

“I think in parallel—natural gas production and renewables—possibly will move together at the same time,” he added, saying his country was already investing in major clean energy projects.

The UAE, which was accused of using its COP presidency to advance fossil fuel deals—allegations it denies—also defended scaling up oil and gas production capacity in response to demand.