Qatar 2022, will the World Cup be carbon neutral?

Qatar World Cup 2022 broadcasts scheduled for November will be eight times higher than Iceland’s annuals, according to the NGO Carbon Market Watch.

There are a few months left for the start of the World CupQatar 2022. A tournament that, beyond the results on the field, will be remembered by countless controversies which characterized the vigil. Following the decision of the International Federation (FIFA) to assign the tournament to a country that has been criticized several times for respecting the human rights; and continuing with doubts about the conditions of foreign workers employed in the works and the number of deaths that occurred during the preparatory work. Now another front is opening, that one environmental impact: The organizers had announced the first World Carbon Neutral Championship in history, with zero net emissions. But with data in hand, a report by the NGO Carbon Market Watch questions this thesis point by point.

The eve of the World Cup was marked by protests and calls for a boycott: a banner in a German stadium © Matthias Hangst / Getty Images

The sustainability strategy implemented by the organizers of the Qatar 2022 World Cup

There will be 32 teams (excluding Italy, which sensationally did not qualify) to participate in the tournament scheduled from November 21 to December 18. They are expected in Qatar 1.5 million fans which will be followed by matches in eight stadiums, seven of which were built from scratch. According to FIFA, the event will generate 3.6 million tonnes of CO2 equivalentconsidering direct and indirect emissions from housing, infrastructure construction and travel.

Together with the host country, for the first time the Federation has developed a sustainability strategy minimize environmental impact: from the purchase of credits to offset emissions to cutting-edge technological solutions to reduce the need and consumption of plants, better manage waste and prevent waste of water. Speaking of infrastructure, a decidedly “compact” competition was organized to minimize the number of air flights: all the World Cup venues are located within a radius of 50 kilometers from the center of Doha, the capital of Qatar.

Qatar World Cup 2022
The event will be held from November 21 to December 18 © Shaun Botterill / Getty Images

Nodes are the future of stadiums and the quality of CO2 credits to offset emissions

And here, according to Carbon market watch, a first critical point arises: FIFA’s calculations only took into account emissions produced by plants during World Cup times, and not throughout the life cycle; the remaining CO2 footprint will be attributed to future occupants and their use. On the other hand, there is no certainty about the fate of the infrastructures that, as happened, for example, at the World Cup in Brazil, could become cathedrals in the desert.

The city of Doha, which has always used only one stadium, will have eight at the end of the tournament. This is, according to the NGO report, “a major problem, because these stadiums were built specifically for the World Cup and the future extensive use of so many facilities in such a small geographical area is uncertain.” The real carbon footprint of these infrastructures – according to Carbon market watch – is at least 1.4 million tons of CO2the equivalent of emissions produced in one year by 180,000 U.S. households for energy consumption.

In the words of the author of the report, Gilles Dufrasne, the zero-emission world cup is “an incredible statement. Despite the lack of transparency, evidence suggests that the emissions from this World Cup will be significantly higher than expected by the organizers, and the carbon credits acquired to offset these emissions are unlikely to have a sufficiently positive impact on the climate. “.

The study also reveals the issue of credits acquired to offset emissions, which would be of “low quality” also because they are calculated from a standard created specifically for the tournament; in addition, they are currently only registered two active projects is equivalent to just over 130,000 credits, compared to the 1.8 million needed to make up for the entire tournament. In short, taking into account the stadium’s emissions throughout its life cycle, the Qatar 2022 tournament will surpass in eight times the annual emissions of a country like Iceland. Apart from the carbon neutral world championships.

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