Cop29 host Azerbaijan launches green energy unit to sceptical response

(Climate Home News, 25 Jan 2024) Roaming around what is believed to be modern-day Baku over 700 years ago, the explorer Marco Polo gazed with wonder at “a spring from which gushes a stream of oil, in such abundance that a hundred ships may load there at once”.

The birthplace of crude refining, Azerbaijan has embedded fossil fuels in the fabric of its society for centuries. Oil, and more recently, gas have never stopped flowing from the vast reservoirs dotted around the Caspian basin.

Feeding energy-hungry consumers across Europe continues to bring immense wealth to the country and particularly its ruling elite. Fossil fuels make up over 90% of all exports and are by far the largest source of government revenue.

But as it gears up to host the Cop29 UN climate summit in November, Azerbaijan wants to show the world a different image. Burnishing its clean energy credentials through its state-owned oil and gas company, Socar, is part of the plan.

At a board meeting at the end of December, just a few weeks after the country was appointed as Cop host, Socar announced the creation of a green energy division called Socar Green. It is promising investments in solar and wind projects, green hydrogen production, and carbon capture and storage (CCS).

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Climate Home News, 25 Jan 2024: Cop29 host Azerbaijan launches green energy unit to sceptical response