Since the argument to be awarded the 2022 FIFA World Cup in 2010, Qatar has promised that the football tournament – which will start on November 20 – will be air-conditioned. This can be very interesting for any major sports, because of the need to create new equipment, adopt teams and fans, move them, and run real games. But it is very difficult in the small Gulf region. Qatar is very dependent on fossil fuels, it is very hot, and it did not have enough space before the event.
However, its organizers insist that the competition will be neutral. Skepticism about this issue has understandably been widespread, as has the issue of greenwashing. Qatar’s sustainable strategy, broadly speaking, relies on reducing emissions as much as possible – which has obvious limitations, considering the need to build stadiums from scratch and use them with large numbers of people in the desert – and pay for any remaining emissions using carbon credits. . The reductionist approach criticizes the best of times, but the methods and calculations used to bring Qatar’s World Cup to zero are questionable.
“Our analysis of the available evidence casts serious doubt on these estimates, which would reduce the actual emissions of the competition and the impact of climate change,” the non-profit organization Carbon Market Watch (CMW) said in a report released earlier this year. The motives behind the organizers trying to brand the World Cup as neutral may be a matter of debate, said Gilles Dufrasne, CMW’s global markets leader in carbon markets, but “what is clear is that it is not correct.”
Due to its small size, Qatar has always had to invest heavily in new stadiums and accommodation. Being a small country also means that it relies heavily on imports, making any construction project taxing on the environment. Even the grass seeds for playing field were imported and flown in from the United States on climate control planes. Once the seeds are sown, maintaining one football field in November and December – when temperatures in Qatar are around 20 to 25 degrees Celsius, not the 40-plus degrees seen in summer – requires 10,000 liters of water per day. And there are 144 of these fields. Water is hard to come by in the desert, desalination requires a lot of energy, and almost 100 percent of the country’s electricity comes from oil and gas. You can see how much air there is.
So it’s no surprise that the tournament will release around 3.6 million tonnes of carbon dioxide, according to FIFA’s official greenhouse gas emissions report. That’s 1.5 million tons more than what was previously published in Russia in 2018, and more than other countries producing in one year. And this is despite the fact that many people are trying to reduce this pollution.
At the center of these efforts are eight open-air sports fields, which are at the heart of his so-called green ambitions. Seven have been built from scratch, and one — Khalifa International — has been renovated. They are often locally sourced, recycled, and recycled and have been certified as sustainably produced (although the certification body is owned by a real estate company owned by the Qatari sovereign wealth fund, Dufrasne said). There is even one stadium, Stadium 974, that uses shipping containers as building blocks, allowing them to be rebuilt and assembled at other locations after the tournament.