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Road to COP29: What can we expect from this year's climate conference?

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By Antoine Rostand

· 5 min read

COP29, set for Novermber 11-24 in Baku, Azerbaijan, is just five months away now and expected to draw over 40,000 delegates. This year’s summit comes at a critical inflection point in the global climate crisis. Case in point, record-breaking heat in India this May underscores the urgent need for action. COP29 aims to address major climate policy issues and build on past commitments, but significant challenges loom.

Key negotiations at COP29

Global energy transition

One of the primary focuses of COP29 will be the global transition away from fossil fuels towards renewable energy. This transition is essential for meeting the Paris Agreement targets and ensuring a sustainable and resilient global economy. Recent scientific reports indicate that we are set to blast past the 1.5C global warming threshold by 2030, further supported by the fact that we’ve been in breach of said target for the past year.

Negotiations will likely center on increasing commitments to phase out coal and reduce oil and gas dependency. According to the latest carbon emissions inventory, Kazakhstan still emits 340 million tonnes of CO2 emissions. Countries will be expected to present updated Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) that reflect more ambitious targets for renewable energy adoption and fossil fuel reduction​​. However, achieving consensus will be challenging, particularly with countries with significant economic dependence on fossil fuels.

Climate finance

Securing adequate climate finance remains a critical challenge. At COP28, developed countries reiterated their commitment to mobilizing $100 billion annually to support developing countries' climate efforts. This is not enough. COP29 will have to build on existing momentum to ensure more money flows to the Global South, the guardians of Earth’s lungs. Aside from monetary pledges, a topic sure to be discussed is the development of a reliable, regulated global voluntary carbon market, which could offer an alternative channel for the flow of money to the Global South.

Global voluntary carbon market

While the global VCM has the potential to channel significant private sector investment into forestry conservation and endowment projects and other climate initiatives, it has been criticized for its lack of transparency. COP29 presents an opportunity to establish clearer guidelines and robust verification mechanisms to enhance the credibility and effectiveness of carbon offsets. This will involve leveraging advanced earth observation tools to verify the integrity of carbon credits and the emissions reduction projects they fund.

Methane abatement

Methane, a potent greenhouse gas, is a critical target for climate action. Abatement is relatively easy and inexpensive yet promises a significant reduction in greenhouse gas emissions. At COP29, we can expect a renewed focus on methane abatement strategies, supported by increasingly accurate and accessible data on methane emission sites and who is responsible for them.

The Global Methane Pledge, initiated at COP26, aims to reduce global methane emissions by 30% by 2030. This pledge requires stringent monitoring and enforcement mechanisms, which earth observation tools can significantly aid. Satellite data and remote sensing technologies can detect methane leaks in real time, providing the necessary data to implement effective abatement strategies​. This year, Kayrros will reveal which countries are delivering on their promises with respect to their methane pledges, which are not, and which are simply living in suspended reality.

Potential shortcomings

Despite these promising areas of focus, COP29 has the potential to fall short of expectations in several ways.

Ambition vs. Implementation

One perennial issue with COP summits is the gap between ambitious commitments and actual implementation. While countries may present bold plans, the mechanisms for ensuring compliance and accountability often lag. Without concrete enforcement measures and transparent reporting, there is a risk that commitments made at COP29 will not translate into real-world actions​.

Equity and just transition

Achieving a just transition that addresses the needs of all stakeholders in the climate crisis, particularly those in developing countries, remains a complex challenge. Discussions around financial support and technology transfer are crucial, but there often needs to be more connection between the negotiations and the realities on the ground. Ensuring that the transition from fossil fuels does not disproportionately impact the most vulnerable populations will require more than just financial pledges; it will need a concerted effort to implement equitable solutions​backed by data.

Market mechanisms

The voluntary carbon market, while promising, is fraught with challenges related to transparency and credibility. If COP29 fails to establish rigorous standards and verification processes, the VCM could continue to be viewed sceptically, undermining its potential to drive meaningful climate action​.

The role of earth observation tools

Earth observation tools can play a pivotal role in addressing these challenges. These tools enhance transparency and accountability by providing accurate, real-time data on methane and carbon emissions, deforestation, and other critical indicators. They enable policymakers to make informed decisions based on reliable data, track progress towards targets, and verify the effectiveness of climate actions​. 

Kayrros leverages advanced satellite data and AI-driven analytics to monitor environmental changes and greenhouse gas emissions. This technology supports compliance with international agreements and empowers all stakeholders with the information needed to drive impactful climate actions that take us a step closer to decarbonizing the planet.


As we look towards COP29, there is a clear opportunity to advance global climate action. However, realizing this potential will require addressing the gaps between commitments and implementation, ensuring equity, transparency and accountability in the energy transition, and enhancing the credibility of market mechanisms. By leveraging the power of earth observation tools, we can foster a data-driven approach to climate policy that ensures effective action towards these goals. The world is watching, and the stakes have never been higher.

illuminem Voices is a democratic space presenting the thoughts and opinions of leading Sustainability & Energy writers, their opinions do not necessarily represent those of illuminem.

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About the author

Antoine Rostand is the President and co-founder of the environmental intelligence company Kayrros. Kayrros collects data from satellite imagery and uses AI and cutting-edge geoanalytics technology to provide insights to governments, investors, businesses, and researchers. Before founding Kayrros, Antoine was president and founder of the Schlumberger Energy Institute, a not-for-profit now known as the Kearney Energy Transition Institute. Antoine was also president and founder of Schlumberger Business Consulting.

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