Qatar bare the huge environmental cost of the FIFA World Cup 2022 tournament

We shouldn't have air-conditioned Qatar stadiums in the middle of the desert, said Gilles Dufrasnay of Carbon Market Watch.

The huge open-air stadium has air conditioning, hundreds of international flights, lots and lots of lights.

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More than a million people travel to Qatar for one of the biggest sporting events on the planet. But as it hosts soccer’s World Cup, controversy is also descending on the small Gulf state.

Alongside concerns over human rights, anti-LGBTQ laws and the treatment of migrant workers – issues that have dogged the tournament for years – critics say Qatar 2022 will be the most environmentally damaging in modern times.

before world cup Qatar stadium

Ahead of the tournament, several environmentally-minded professional players signed an open letter to FIFA earlier this month, calling on soccer’s world governing body to back down from competing claims that Qatar’s World Cup will be carbon neutral and review plans to host next year’s Women’s World Cup. the cup by Australia and New Zealand. Contact Us

The FIFA World Cup tournament is touted as the first tournament to be ‘completely carbon neutral’, the meaning its overall impact on the planet should be zero. But that’s not true,the letter said.

the reality is, the Qatar World Cup relies on flawed carbon calculations the FIFA’s sustainability strategy . questionable offsetting shifting and practices responsibility to fans rather than shouldering it, it added.

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Qatar’s World Cup

FIFA said it had put in place a “comprehensive initiative…” to reduce tournament-related emissions.

The environmental costs of the tournament crystallized environmental concerns for many after a year of unusually extreme weather and climate events such as drought, wildfires and floods. And it’s hurting the World Cup brand where it hurts the most – its fans. Some bars and pubs in countries including Britain, France and Germany have announced they will not show the games due to a mix of concerns about environmental damage and human rights abuses.

Almost half of pubs surveyed by the Morning Advertiser, Britain’s pub industry trade magazine, said they would not show live matches. Leeds’ Mustard Pot blamed Qatar’s “pretty appalling” human rights abuses for its boycott, while Chester’s Liverpool Arms told the magazine it had made the decision because of Qatar’s lack of LGBTQ rights.

construct the Lusail stadium in Doha Qatar

And retired soccer player Kevin Grosskreutz, a member of Germany’s World Cup-winning team in 2014, wrote in an Instagram post that the pub he owns in Dortmund, Meat Smacks, will not show matches even if it means losing money.

La Cite Fertile, a cultural space in northern Paris dedicated to environmental and social issues, will instead show a replay of the final match of the 1998 tournament in France, when a famously talented French team beat Brazil to win the trophy for the first time.

Valentin Serac, 29, who works for an events agency in the French capital, said he plans to run again, but has no events connected to this year’s tournament.

“I’m not sure why I’d support this bull—- actually. Of course it’s not too bad.”

Paris and Berlin are among several European cities that have said they will not host a “fan zone”, a game at several previous tournaments where supporters can gather to watch games on a big screen, fearing treatment of LGBTQ people, migrant workers’ rights. and environmental impacts.

FIFA, which usually releases attendance figures after the tournament ends, did not respond to questions about how many spectators from around the world attended.

Israel’s Foreign Ministry has launched a campaign to educate Israeli soccer fans on how to navigate Qatar’s laws and customs ahead of the World Cup.

keep cool

So, it’s no surprise that the original plan to host this year’s World Cup in the summer — when temperatures could reach above 104 degrees Fahrenheit — was ultimately shelved. But despite temperatures reaching 90 degrees in November, air conditioning has been used in stadiums throughout the tournament so far. Some fans and journalists have also accused by being too cold during night games as a result.

construct the Lusail stadium in Doha Qatar
construct the Lusail stadium in Doha Qatar

“We shouldn’t have air-conditioned stadiums in the middle of the desert,” said Gilles Dufrasnay of Carbon Market Watch, a Brussels-based nonprofit group that tracks the price of carbon trading. The company is one of several that have complained to European regulators about misleading and false carbon neutral claims.

He added that its carbon impact would pale in comparison to flying a million people and building seven stadiums to Qatar.

Travel will account for half of the World Cup’s entire carbon footprint, according to FIFA — a figure Qatar is too small to accommodate for all its fans: some will have to live in the neighboring United Arab Emirates, a short one-hour flight or 6-hour drive through the desert. State-owned Qatar Airways has increased shuttle flights between Qatar and the UAE.

Julien Jeresati, a director of the Greenpeace campaign group, said Qatar Airways flight increases are unlikely given the 3.6 megatonnes of carbon dioxide emitted during the championships that were part of Fifa’s estimate, adding further uncertainty to the numbers released by the organizing body.

Qatar pledged to host the first carbon neutral World Cup after winning the right to host the tournament.

But experts have questioned whether the tournament should be held in a dry country where seven new stadiums have to be built and one renovated. The country also built a new metro rail system and built hundreds of new hotels, according to FIFA.

FIFA said total greenhouse emissions from the tournament would be 3.6 million tonnes (or 5.4 million tonnes) of carbon dioxide equivalent, which would be fully offset and mitigated by “low-carbon solutions” in Qatar and the Gulf region.

But Carbon Market Watch’s Dufrasne said the organizers’ carbon neutral claims stem from spreading emissions from construction over the stadiums’ 60-year lifespan – essentially cheating the math.

“Of the total emissions associated with the construction of these new stadiums, they account for a fraction that is one month divided by 60 years,” he said.

Others agree. In November a series of climate-focused think tanks and campaign groups filed complaints with advertising regulators in five European countries, over what they called Fifa’s misleading and false carbon neutral claims.

Britain’s The New Weather Institute, Switzerland’s Clima-Allianz Schweiz, France’s Notre Affair a Tousse, Belgium’s Carbon Market Watch and the Netherlands’ Fossil Free Football allege the organizers underreported emissions levels and made misleading claims.

FIFA aims to offset the tournament’s carbon footprint by purchasing carbon credits. Qatar, through its own organization, the Global Carbon Council, has said it invests in sustainable projects to pay off its environmental debt. So far, as part of its commitment, Qatar has inaugurated renewable energy projects in Turkey and Serbia.

But the carbon credit market is not strong enough for World Cup hosts to offset the tournament’s emissions, and campaigners worry about the message carbon neutral claims send, Dufrasnay ​​said.

Greenpeace’s Jeresati also points out the hypocrisy of a state whose resources are almost entirely based on fossil fuels investing in carbon reduction projects elsewhere.

“Let’s be clear: Their bread and butter, their main source of income, comes from oil and gas every quarter,” he said.

He added that oil-rich states like Qatar could use green schemes to polish their image and give themselves a more ethical license to continue expanding their oil and gas exploration – a process known as “greenwashing”.

While concerned about climate impacts, Jeresati said, he doesn’t want to be a killjoy.

He said events like the football world cup bring joy to millions, sometimes billions of people, right?”

However, he said, he hoped the controversy surrounding the tournament’s environmental impact could spark a conversation about improvements for future events.

All the scandals it has created are host country Qatar. This should be a strong signal to engage in real transformative, systemic change towards a future that is greener, more sustainable and more peaceful.

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