Qatar 2022 to be the 1st Carbon-Neutral FIFA World Cup™ in History
FIFA World Cup organizers have been stressing that Qatar is the ideal choice to host this year’s tournament since their bid. In a September 2021 press release, they had stated that due to the compact nature of the country, the stadiums would be in close proximity to each other, which would in effect reduce the frequency of domestic air travel for the fans, thus lowering the overall carbon footprint of the tournament. They had then mentioned that air travel is one of the largest sources of carbon emissions in the world.
There has always been a looming concern whether a small country, which is home to less than 3 million people, would be able to cope with the traffic of football fans coming in from across the world. More recently, a solution has been presented by the organizers to fly spectators in and out of Qatar on a daily basis from nearby GCC countries with an aim to reduce the strains and requirements of providing accommodation to these fans, as well as to give them more flexibility, if they wish to stay in these countries instead.
Qatar Airways has announced that World Cup ticket holders residing in the neighboring countries shall be able to fly in on a daily basis as Fly Dubai, Oman Air, Kuwait Airways and Saudi Arabian Airlines have signed and Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with Qatar Airways and will be operating nearly 188 flights every day. According to climate change advocates this contradicts their claims of hosting a “Carbon Neutral” World Cup.
Before the announcement, the estimates for carbon footprint presented by the organizers was more than 3.6 million metric tons of CO2, more than half of which was mostly due to the movement of fans. The recently proposed flight program for daily regional flights is likely to significantly over step the current estimates.
According to a report published by Carbon Market Watch, projects that are supported by the World Cup’s carbon credit plan have a “low level of environmental integrity”. It stated that they have so far only managed to issue 130,000 credits of the promised 1.8 million. It is also noteworthy that the World Cup is happening in November, which is only 5 months away from now. The organization has criticized the measuring approach used by FIFA, stating that the carbon emission levels have been grossly underestimated.
The Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy defended their commitment to the Carbon Neutral goal, stating that the report is “speculative and inaccurate to draw conclusions” and that “the methodology used to calculate the carbon-neutral commitment is the best in practice and is designed to be based on actual activity data, after the FIFA World Cup has concluded”. They asked the world to be patient stating, “This will be published, and any discrepancies will be explained and offset.”
FIFA also responded to the post, citing the use of Greenhouse Gas Protocol as the measuring method, which is the most widely used standard for accounting for carbon emissions in the world and that its previous carbon footprint estimate had already been published in February of 2021. It is only possible to calculate the differences once the tournament is over and the next estimate is published.
FIFA reassured its stake-holders that they had not been “misled” and that decisions it took were in full awareness of the risks such “mega events pose on the economy, the natural environment, people and communities.”
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