In the midst of a storm of controversy, the Qatar FIFA World Cup officially began on 20th November. The organizers’ promise that Qatar 2022 will be the first carbon-neutral FIFA World Cup in history has put the tournament’s environmental effect under close examination.
This would have been a great accomplishment for any significant sporting event. However, critics argue that the assertions are “misleading” to the public, and their judgment indicates that the 2022 FIFA World Cup is not carbon neutral. They warn that the competition will cause a plethora of environmental issues, including higher greenhouse emissions, waste generation, and water use.
The organizing committee suggests that most of the emissions result from the transportation and lodging needs of over a million people, as well as from the construction of various stadiums and other infrastructure, also giving an estimated figure of 3.6 million tonnes of CO2 emission throughout the tournament, the equivalent of nearly 460,000 homes’ energy use for a year.
However, a report by Carbon Market watch states that even thisfigure is inaccurate, and the organizers have vastly underestimated the emissions indicating that the 2022 FIFA World Cup is not carbon neutral as claimed by Qatar.
Let Us Look Into The Reality of Qatar’s Carbon-Neutral Claims:
1. Emissions From Stadium Construction
Investment in new stadiums and hotels is more ecologically demanding for a small Gulf state like Qatar, which relies on imports. However, because the stadiums will be utilized for other events, only a tiny percentage of the building emissions have been included in official estimates.
Seven stadiums were designed from the ground up, while the eighth, Khalifa International, was renovated. They are typically made of regional, repurposed, and recycled materials and have been approved for their environmentally friendly design.
However, According to FIFA, the construction and operation of the tournament’s infrastructure account for just around a fourth of the World Cup’s overall emissions. Travel accounts for more than half of all emissions, with lodging accounting for 1/5th of the emissions.
According to official estimates, transportation will account for 51% of total emissions. Due to a lack of available housing in Qatar, 160 aircraft each day will depart from neighboring nations such as Kuwait, Oman, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates.
Despite its spectacular construction exploits, Qatar will still require 3.6 million carbon credits to counterbalance the competition. This is when things become tricky.
3. Insufficient Carbon Offset Schemes
According to its sustainability report, FIFA and Qatar plan to offset unavoidable emissions with carbon credits and other measures such as planting trees.
Roughly 200,000 of the expected 1.8 million tonnes of credits have been granted. They all come from renewable energy projects in Serbia, Turkey, and India through an organization more or less established by Qatar itself, according to the report.
Instead of acquiring carbon credits that existing neutral standards have validated, the organizers have established their system, known as the Global Carbon Council, raising worries about transparency and validity.
A huge athletic event like the World Cup raises more than just emissions concerns. Another issue is water consumption, which is especially problematic considering Qatar’s limited water supplies.
Source: Total carbon footprint of the tournament based on lifetime usage
4. Water Consumption & Human Rights Exploitation
Most of Qatar’s freshwater comes from desalination facilities, created through an energy-intensive process mainly employing fossil fuels. The factories also discharge harmful brine into the sea, which is salty and hot.
In the winter, each pitch is said to require roughly 10,000 litres of desalinated water every day. In addition, event organizers claim that 60% of the garbage created during the event will be recycled, while 40% will be converted into electricity. However, burning waste for energy also emits greenhouse gases. This undermines the promises of a sustainable world cup.
Aside from the fact that the 2022 FIFA World Cup is not carbon neutral, concerns over suspected human rights breaches have brought the Qatar World Cup to the forefront. Migrant laborers primarily built stadiums, and the country has been heavily chastised for the working conditions of these employees.
The Guardian estimated that 6,500 migrant workers had died in the nation since 2010, despite FIFA reporting just 37 deaths related to World Cup stadium building.
But that is a discussion for another time. As for the carbon neutrality claims, organizers say the World Cup’s emissions will be reviewed after the tournament to offer a precise picture of its footprint. Still, if the calculating techniques are fundamentally incorrect, the practice is futile and does not compensate for accusations that the 2022 FIFA World Cup is not carbon neutral. This makes us wonder if it is genuinely feasible to have global events that are not a disaster for our climate.
Can We Have A 100% Carbon-Neutral Tournament?
As we have already discussed the facts, now we know that the Qatar claim of the 2022 FIFA World Cup being carbon neutral is in no way close to reality and is another squandered opportunity to restructure the games and spark profound change.
Almost all major athletic events have an environmental impact, with the 2018 World Cup in Russia producing over 2 million tonnes of CO2 and the 2016 Olympics in Rio generating 4.5 million tonnes; however, comparing various events is difficult.
This debate demonstrates how difficult it is to create a fully carbon-neutral event. Even though the 2022 FIFA World Cup is not Carbon Neutral, what is more problematic is the emission-slashing promises. FIFA’s vague attitude exemplifies the all-too-common misleading practices that many institutions, businesses, and governments use to mislead people into thinking they are tackling environmental issues while doing nothing. At the absolute least, they must ensure that their commitments are kept.
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