The UN's climate change body said a decision on which nation will host Cop29 should be made at Cop28 in the UAE this year.
Cop29 is set to be staged by a country in eastern Europe, but reports have suggested the Ukraine war has complicated efforts to find a host.
The UNFCCC told The National, however, that there was “no formal deadline” for the host country to be agreed.
“In case there is no agreement in the Eastern Europe group, Cop29 would be held in Germany as the host country of the secretariat and would be presided by the UAE as the presidency of Cop28,” the UNFCCC said in the statement.
Reuters and the UK's Financial Times reported that the decision remains deadlocked due to Russia’s war in Ukraine with Reuters, for example, stating that Russia intended to block EU countries from hosting it due to tensions from the war.
This represents a setback for Bulgaria, which has expressed interest in hosting Cop29. Armenia and Azerbaijan have also signalled their interest but Baku’s seizure of the enclave of Nagorno-Karabakh last month has escalated tensions between the two countries.
“It would be problematic if it is not agreed by the end of Cop28,” Bob Ward, policy director at the Grantham Institute for Climate Change at the London School of Economics, told The National.
“Although competition is healthy, stand-offs are unhelpful, particularly as the aim of the United Nations climate change summits is to promote global co-operation on tackling climate change,” he said.
All countries in the 23-member Eastern Europe group must agree on a host. Another resolution would be for a different region and country to come forward such as when Spain stepped in for Chile in 2019 due to protests in the South American country.
“If the Eastern European group are unable to agree between themselves on a host, then the bureau of the negotiations, which oversees the process, should consider alternatives outside the region,” said Mr Ward.
A host tends to be agreed on a year in advance to allow organisers to prepare for the summit which is typically attended by tens of thousands of people.
The host plays a crucial role as it guides the difficult negotiations involving competing nations and interests that can drift long into the night and often force the summit into extra time.
The host of Cop is rotated among regions with the Eastern Europe bloc taking its turn next year.
The UAE will stage Cop28 this year as part of the Asia-Pacific group, while Brazil is expected to host Cop30 in 2025 as part of the Latin American and Caribbean grouping.
“It is an important criterion for the legitimacy of the international negotiations that they should be hosted in different regions,” said Mr Ward.
“Obviously, the host needs to be able to offer suitable venues for the negotiations and ensure the safety of participants. However, the most critical criterion should be that the host country will provide strong leadership through the presidency to achieve an ambitious outcome from Cop29.”
Meanwhile, there are now less than two months to go before Cop28 starts.
The crucial talks run from November 30 to December 12 at Expo City Dubai where leaders will try to tackle the escalating climate emergency. Organisers said they expect up to 70,000 people to attend.
Cutting emissions, scaling up climate finance, keeping the 1.5°C goal alive, and bringing the loss and damage fund into operation are expected to dominate the negotiations.
“Let's leave our differences aside,” Dr Sultan Al Jaber, Cop28 President-designate, told a climate conference in Dubai on Saturday. “The climate challenge is a threat and it must be addressed by everyone.
“We have decided that our comprehensive and holistic plan for Cop28 is to be centred around one thing, and that is the North Star,” said Dr Al Jaber, who is also the UAE’s Minister of Industry and Advanced Technology. “What is our North Star at Cop28? It is keeping 1.5°C within reach.”