The Qatar World Cup is failing to deliver on its promise to reduce its carbon footprint, a new report has warned, creating another problem for the tournament.
Organizers have claimed the 32-team centerpiece will be the first “carbon neutral” World Cup, meaning all emissions will be limited and offset. However, Carbon Market Watch (CMW), a non-profit organization that works closely with the European Union, has reviewed the organizers’ plans and says the planned emissions were likely underreported, the footprint created by the construction of seven new stadiums being of particular concern. .
“It would be great to see the climate impact of the FIFA World Cups significantly reduced, but the carbon neutrality claim that is being made is simply not credible,” said CMW’s Gilles Dufrasne, author of the analysis. . “Despite a lack of transparency, evidence suggests that emissions from this World Cup will be significantly higher than expected by the organizers, and the carbon credits purchased to offset those emissions are unlikely to have a sufficiently positive impact on the climate. “
At the heart of CMW’s complaint is its calculation that the carbon emissions created by new stadiums could be up to eight times higher than the figures contained in Qatar’s analysis. The CMW report claims the hosts have made a calculation that spreads a stadium’s carbon footprint over its lifetime, which the report describes as “problematic”.
“These stadiums were built specifically for the World Cup,” CMW said. “The future heavy use of so many stadiums in such a small geographical space is uncertain, especially considering the fact that Doha only had one large stadium before the World Cup was awarded.”
Other criticism focused on plans to absorb emissions with a large-scale “tree and grass nursery”. The CMW report says this idea is “not credible” because any uptake is “unlikely to be permanent in these man-made and vulnerable green spaces”. He also questions the carbon credit system that Qatar plans to use to offset the remaining emissions at the end of the event.
The new format, known as the Global Carbon Council (GCC), was initially authorized by Qatari authorities and has different criteria from other established credit systems. It is only used for two other projects worldwide and has sold 130,000 credits. A minimum of 1.8 million should be sold at the World Cup.
A spokesman for Qatar’s Supreme Committee, responsible for hosting the World Cup, said the country’s commitment to a carbon-neutral World Cup should be “acknowledged, rather than criticised” and that the CMW reviews were “speculative and inaccurate”.
He said many of the trees in the nursery were endemic to the region, drought tolerant and would be replanted around the stadium areas after the tournament. The GCC credit system, he said, has been endorsed by a number of bodies, including the International Civil Aviation Organization, an agency of the United Nations.
Fifa dispute CMW’s analysis, saying it is not appropriate to calculate stadium emissions solely on the basis of their use at the World Cup and that “detailed legacy plans and business models” for the use of the stadiums after the tournament are in place.
“The organizers are committed to measuring, mitigating and offsetting all greenhouse gas emissions from the 2022 FIFA World Cup, while advancing low-carbon solutions in Qatar and the region,” said a spokesperson. “Thus, at no time did Fifa mislead its stakeholders, as the report claims.
“Fifa is fully aware of the risks that mega-events pose to the economy, the natural environment, people and communities. [It] has made efforts to combat these impacts and use the opportunities that arise to mitigate the negative impacts and maximize the positive impacts of its signature tournament.