New Times,
New Thinking.

At Cop29, Azerbaijan must be the anchor for 1.5ºC

Baku has the opportunity to rally the globe behind the green transition.

By Christiana Figueres

This week, representatives of Azerbaijan, Brazil and the United Arab Emirates will gather in Copenhagen for the first key meeting of climate ministers since Cop28 in Dubai. These past, present and future Cop presidencies recently established a troika to rally international collaboration to keep the world on track to meet 1.5ºC.

Just over 200 days stand between us and Cop29 in Baku. Between now and then we know the world will experience worsening climate impacts. We have had the warmest January on record. The Panama Canal and the Amazon rainforest are drying out. Hundreds are dead from wildfires in Latin America, and millions continue to suffer drought and food insecurity across the Horn of Africa. Last year was the first in which the average temperature on Earth – over 12 consecutive months – breached 1.5ºC. This is not a permanent breach, but it’s highly concerning and is the backdrop to a litany of horrifying impacts.

As Azerbaijan takes the helm for delivering climate action this year, its president, Ilham Aliyev, must know the main driver of this temperature increase is the historical and continued burning of fossil fuels. Emissions reached a record high in 2023; this year the world cannot afford yet another peak.

Baku has a lot to grasp. Within the next seven months it must face some challenging issues. How will it rally countries to accelerate the global energy transition to renewables? What will it do to help unlock the flow of public and private finance that’s urgently required by vulnerable countries? Where does it stand on adaptation measures that need to be put in place to buffer the worst impacts?

Hosting a Cop is a huge opportunity. The world will be watching Baku make its every move. We know it is not an easy task. Building trust takes time. The Azerbaijan presidency must seize this opportunity – and do so fast – by gathering support from parties, businesses and civil society to achieve its vision of keeping climate action anchored to meeting 1.5ºC.

Select and enter your email address Your weekly guide to the best writing on ideas, politics, books and culture every Saturday. The best way to sign up for The Saturday Read is via The New Statesman's quick and essential guide to the news and politics of the day. The best way to sign up for Morning Call is via
  • Administration / Office
  • Arts and Culture
  • Board Member
  • Business / Corporate Services
  • Client / Customer Services
  • Communications
  • Construction, Works, Engineering
  • Education, Curriculum and Teaching
  • Environment, Conservation and NRM
  • Facility / Grounds Management and Maintenance
  • Finance Management
  • Health - Medical and Nursing Management
  • HR, Training and Organisational Development
  • Information and Communications Technology
  • Information Services, Statistics, Records, Archives
  • Infrastructure Management - Transport, Utilities
  • Legal Officers and Practitioners
  • Librarians and Library Management
  • Management
  • Marketing
  • OH&S, Risk Management
  • Operations Management
  • Planning, Policy, Strategy
  • Printing, Design, Publishing, Web
  • Projects, Programs and Advisors
  • Property, Assets and Fleet Management
  • Public Relations and Media
  • Purchasing and Procurement
  • Quality Management
  • Science and Technical Research and Development
  • Security and Law Enforcement
  • Service Delivery
  • Sport and Recreation
  • Travel, Accommodation, Tourism
  • Wellbeing, Community / Social Services
Visit our privacy Policy for more information about our services, how Progressive Media Investments may use, process and share your personal data, including information on your rights in respect of your personal data and how you can unsubscribe from future marketing communications.

I used to sail, and I can’t tell you how unsettling it is to wake up in the morning and realise that the currents have dragged the anchor. You are adrift and have no idea where you are or where you are going. It is a terrifying feeling and one the world cannot afford on climate. Keeping 1.5ºC as the scientific guardrail in the Paris Agreement, and therefore as the political anchor for all climate action, remains fundamental.

There is no guarantee we will be able to permanently keep below the globally agreed, necessary ceiling of temperature rise. The only guarantee we have is that giving up on 1.5ºC now means we will lose this critical chance to rectify our course, with severe consequences for all. Cop29 is a key moment for helping to secure this, alongside adequate finance for countries who need it the most.

Presidencies who find common ground and make the effort to achieve a successful Cop are rewarded. France helped secure the historic Paris Agreement in 2015. Egypt championed the first loss and damage fund in 2022, and the UAE is widely praised for championing an agreement last year to move us beyond a future of fossil fuels.

These are not just diplomatic wins, they’re economic ones too. Investments in new energy are now outstripping fossil fuels. They are projected to hit $4.5trn a year in the 2030s. These are the kinds of insurance policies we need, because the loss and damage from climate disasters will otherwise become impossible to bear.

Azerbaijan and the Cop29 president can keep us from drifting away from the destination we agreed to as a global society: a 1.5ºC-aligned future. Azerbaijan must help us anchor a safe and just future at Cop29.

[See also: The price of survival]

Content from our partners
The power of place in tackling climate change
Tackling the UK's biggest health challenges
"Heat or eat": how to help millions in fuel poverty – with British Gas Energy Trust