The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release
Contact: Lindsay Meiman,Senior U.S. Communications Specialist,,,+1 347 460 9082,New York, USA

Stop big oil influence & protect human rights at Azerbaijan climate summit, over 150 organizations demand

A large coalition of over 150 civil society organizations is calling out oil industry participation in the United Nations Climate Change Conference in a bid to rid the process of a serious conflict of interest that could threaten the success of COP29, the UN climate summit due to take place in Azerbaijan in November.

The recent announcement that Azerbaijan will include state oil boss, Rovshan Najaf, in the organizing committee, continues a worrying trend of increased oil industry influence on the host countries of the UN climate summits.

“The climate movement has steadfastly held the line at climate negotiations, COP after COP after COP, pushing political leaders to drive the transformational change in climate policy we urgently need to see. But for three years in a row, these UN climate talks are hosted in countries where the interests of the fossil fuel industry are given precedence over those of people and the planet. Worse still, they exercise their authority to deliberately exclude the voices of the people most directly impacted by climate change, and threaten our right to push for the solutions we need,” said Namrata Chowdhary, Head of Public Engagement at “Inviting the heads of oil companies and the secret service onto the organizing committee sends a clear signal to civil society – that we will be held at a distance, and our influence limited. Must we wait until the ‘people’s climate summit’ that President Lula promises to host next year in Brazil before our demands are heard? We simply do not have that kind of time!”

A global coalition led by and Oil Change International, comprising over 150 organizations, have detailed their concerns in an open letter to COP29 President, Mukhtar Babayev. The letter, originally signed and sent by the Executive Directors of, Oil Change International, ActionAid, and CIEL still hasn’t received a response from the COP29 presidency. Organizations including youth, environmental, human rights, and indigenous groups from over 50 countries and six continents have since signed on.

The organizations demand the removal of Rovshan Najaf, president of the State Oil Company of the Republic of Azerbaijan (SOCAR), from the COP29 organizing committee, to address the conflict of interest. Last year, SOCAR, Azerbaijan’s state oil company announced plans to expand fossil fuel production which is incompatible with the Paris Agreement – the cornerstone of the COP climate negotiations.

The open letter further expresses deep concerns over civil society’s freedom of speech, peaceful assembly, and human rights in the COP29 host country Azerbaijan. The organizations are asking Babayev to clarify the role of Ilgar Musayev, the Head of the country’s Service of Special Communication and Information Security, who has also been appointed as a member of the organizing committee.

Romain Ioualalen, Global Policy Manager with Oil Change International, said:

“The upcoming United Nations Climate Change Conference must be the COP that starts implementing a full, fast, fair, and funded transition away from fossil fuels, after the promises made in Dubai. Yet, this will be the second COP in a row that is run by someone with deep ties to the oil and gas industry, which has a deep stake in seeing climate action fail. The recent inclusion of the President of the State Oil Company of the Republic of Azerbaijan (SOCAR) on the core COP29 team sends yet another profoundly negative signal on the potential capture of crucial climate talks by the oil and gas industry. The COP29 presidency was heavily criticized for failing to ensure gender balance on its organizing committee and should therefore know that its choices will be scrutinized globally. But, like with their correction of adding women to the committee, after introducing an all male panel earlier this year, it is not too late to separate oil company interest from the most important climate change conference of the year.

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