By Sibu Arasu
BAKU (AP) — Azerbaijan’s ecology minister has been named to lead the United Nations’ annual climate talks later this year, prompting concern from some climate activists over his former ties to the state oil company in a major oil-producing nation.
Mukhtar Babayev’s appointment was announced on X (Twitter) on January 5 by the United Arab Emirates, which hosted the climate talks that just ended in December, and confirmed Friday by the United Nations. Officials in Azerbaijan did not immediately respond to messages seeking to confirm the appointment.
Babayev, 56, has been his country’s minister for ecology and natural resources since 2018. Before that, he worked at Azerbaijan’s state oil company for more than two decades.
Similar concerns dogged Sultan al-Jaber, the head of the UAE’s national oil company, as he presided over the talks in Dubai known as COP28. The COP president is responsible for running talks and getting nearly 200 countries to agree on a deal to help limit global warming, and skeptics questioned whether al-Jaber would be willing to confront the fossil fuels causing climate change.
The conference ultimately resulted in a final agreement that for the first time mentioned fossil fuels as the cause of climate change and acknowledged the need to transition away from them, but it had no concrete requirements to do so.