Dealing with climate challenges during COP29 – Aze.Media

The effects of climate change have become more visible as greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from human activities cause increased heat, droughts, floods, etc. Changes in the Earth’s climatic balance have had a negative impact on many nations around the world. Therefore, climate challenges are a global problem that requires the urgent attention of all nations to effectively address the challenges and save our ecosystem.

The Republic of Azerbaijan is a resource-rich country, and energy production in the country is strongly linked to fossil fuels. However, Azerbaijan places a strong emphasis on the Sustainable Development Goals as part of the development of green energy infrastructure and the wider use of renewable energy sources throughout the economy. The economic potential of renewable energy sources is estimated at 27 GW, including 3,000 MW of wind energy, 23,000 MW of solar energy, 380 MW of bioenergy potential, 520 MW of mountain rivers.

The government of Azerbaijan intends to increase the share of the installed capacity of renewable energy sources to 30 percent in the country’s overall energy mix by 2030. As you can see, renewable energy sources are the most promising, low-emission solution that meets the country’s climate goals. The country has committed to reducing greenhouse gas emissions to 35 percent by 2030 and 40 percent by 2050 compared to the 1990 base year set out in its Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) under the Paris Agreement, which emphasizes the use of alternative and renewable energy sources to achieve this goal.

This year, Azerbaijan will host the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP29) in Baku. COP29 showcases Azerbaijan’s efforts to accelerate green economic growth and foster a more sustainable and eco-friendly environment. To this end, the Order of the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan on the approval of “Azerbaijan 2030: National Priorities for Socio-Economic Development” shows that creating a clean environment and a country of “green growth” is a key goal of the government, which will represent an important step in efforts to maintain gas emissions greenhouses at a level that meets international standards.

The year 2024 has also been declared the “World Year of Green Solidarity” in Azerbaijan. It is important to demonstrate the country’s commitment to environmental protection and climate action. Karabakh, East Zangezur and the Nakhchivan Autonomous Republic have been recognized as “Green Energy Zones” (GEZ). The Japanese company TEPSCO and the Ministry of Energy have signed an agreement that provides for the effective use of renewable energy potential such as wind, solar, hydro, geothermal and bioenergy in the liberated territories. The aim of the Concept Paper is to provide the area with environmentally friendly green energy by exploiting the existing high renewable energy potential in the liberated territories and to formulate proposals by exploring the prospects for the application of environmentally friendly and energy-saving green technologies.

Moreover, Azerbaijan has established a successful energy partnership with UAE-based global renewable energy company Masdar, ADNOC, Saudi-listed ACWA Power, BP and China Gezhouba Group Overseas Investment to implement renewable energy projects in the country. Last year, the first Garadagh photovoltaic power plant with a capacity of 230 MW was opened in the country. This power plant is the largest solar power plant in the Caspian Sea and CIS region. The plant was built thanks to foreign investments worth USD 262 million. The plant will produce 500 million kilowatt-hours of electricity annually, saving 110 million cubic meters of natural gas. At the same time, carbon dioxide emissions into the atmosphere will be reduced by 200,000. tone. As President Ilham Aliyev noted during the COP29 International Forum and the Green Vision for Azerbaijan: “This year we will witness the groundbreaking ceremony for the construction of four more solar and wind power plants with a total capacity of 1,300 megawatts. In Karabakh and eastern Zangezur alone, the capacity of hydroelectric power plants has reached almost 170 megawatts in the last three years.

All the above points illustrate Azerbaijan’s ambitious commitments to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and increase the share of renewable energy sources in its energy mix. However, the key question is: why is Azerbaijan so focused on renewable energy sources, when it already has rich fossil fuel resources? To answer this question, the country’s energy transition is driven by several factors, such as a growing economy, rising energy demand, rising energy exports, and a target to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Accelerating the use of renewable energy has become a key element of Azerbaijan’s energy and foreign policy in recent years. In 2022, the EU and Azerbaijan signed a new “Memorandum of Understanding on a Strategic Energy Partnership” that supports further cooperation in the area of ​​energy efficiency and renewable energy sources. The document opened a new page of energy cooperation between Europe and the South Caucasus.

Green Energy Corridor

Pursuing future green energy initiatives, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Hungary and Romania have signed an agreement to build an underwater electric cable under the Black Sea. This green energy project will connect the South Caucasus with Southeast Europe, covering the electricity systems of these countries and continental Europe. The project will serve as a “green energy corridor” that could become a new energy source for the EU as Europe seeks to reduce its dependence on Russian energy.

It should also be emphasized that the submarine cable project in the Black Sea opens up new opportunities for Central Asian countries to use huge green energy resources and then export electricity to Europe through Azerbaijan. To this end, Azerbaijan is one of the important countries of the Central Corridor that supports strategic connectivity and energy projects and the transit of energy sources from Central Asia to global energy markets.

Fossil fuels and renewable energy resources in Central Asia and the South Caucasus are so abundant that they can easily meet Europe’s growing energy demand in the medium and long term. These resources can also contribute to achieving the target level of 42.5%. (by 2030) renewable energy in Europe.

Minerals critical for renewable energy

In addition, Central Asian countries, especially Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan, are rich in critical minerals that are important raw materials in the production of renewable energy technologies. Central Asia is becoming a strategically important region for many external powers. The West is trying to strengthen its position there and limit Chinese influence in the region. This further enhances the region’s competitiveness, creates a favorable investment environment and makes the South Caucasus a key segment of energy and trade flows between Asia and Europe.

On May 1, 2024, Azerbaijan, Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan signed a Memorandum of Cooperation on interconnecting the energy systems of the three countries. According to Mikayil Jabbarov, Minister of Economy of the Republic of Azerbaijan – “The implementation of this document will enable the three parties to cooperate in the production of “green” energy and the organization of its export by Azerbaijan to Europe to ensure the integration of energy systems and the effective use of renewable energy sources.

After all, hosting COP29 for the first time in the region creates a huge opportunity for the countries of the Southern Club and Central Asia to promote sustainable development and accelerate the green transformation. Finally, with climate change, Azerbaijan supports the peace agenda in the region, as highlighted by Hikmet Hajiyev, Presidential Advisor on Foreign Policy, who noted that “Azerbaijan continues and will make additional efforts to make Cop another success story for peace and to COP29 has become a peace conference, alongside the issue of climate action.”

Shahmar Hajiyev

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