Azerbaijan has been announced as the host for the next year’s climate summit, COP29. The announcement follows negotiations that underscored the complexities of the selection process. The United Nations’ rules designated Eastern Europe for the rotating presidency, requiring unanimous agreement from the involved groups.

The diplomatic tug-of-war saw Russia blocking EU countries, while Azerbaijan and Armenia engaged in a deadlock, each blocking the other’s bids. Amid concerns about a country’s ability to provide necessary funding and facilities for such a large conference, Armenia eventually withdrew its bid, throwing its support behind Azerbaijan and leading to a consensus.

However, the decision sparked concerns among climate activists. Azerbaijan’s heavy reliance on fossil fuels aligns with the perception that COPs might be influenced by fossil fuel interests. Azerbaijan’s economy is heavily dependent on oil and gas production, constituting nearly half of its GDP and over 92.5% of export revenue in the previous year, according to the US government’s International Trade Administration.

Civil society organisations have criticised Azerbaijan for its poor human rights record, with the country being ranked as “not free” on the Freedom Index by a US-based NGO. Svitilana Romanko of Razon Ukraine highlights an increase in repression under Ilham Aliyev’s regime, with the virtual elimination of political opposition.

The decision on the COP29 host allows for planning post-COP28 and preparing for key years in 2024 and 2025 when new climate targets are expected. Kaveh Guilanpour, vice president of the Center for Climate and Energy Solutions, pointed out the importance of moving forward with plans after the uncertainty surrounding the host country is resolved.

Simultaneously, a coalition of twelve countries, led by the Netherlands, has announced a crackdown on fossil fuel subsidies. Fossil fuels received a record $13 million per minute in subsidies in 2022, as the International Monetary Fund reported.

EU’s climate commissioner Wopke Hoekstra stressed ending fossil fuel subsidies. Canadian climate minister Steven Guilbeault urged countries to expedite the phase-out of inefficient fossil fuel subsidies to align spending with climate ambitions.

The UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) is set to unveil its intervention on the future of agriculture in a 1.5C world during the final days of the climate summit in Dubai. Expectations are that the FAO roadmap may lack detailed plans but focus on broad aspirations, intending to provide more specifics at future conferences which include COP29 and COP30.

As COP28 concludes, the presidency collaborates with pairs of ministers to find consensus on contentious issues in the final decision. The UK, represented by ministers Graham Stuart and Steve Barclay instead of the lead cabinet minister Claire Coutinho, faced disappointment from many countries. The UK’s negotiating team was praised for skill and dedication. Still, the absence of a high-level representative is noted, especially considering the UK’s past role as a strong climate champion.