In 2020, the gulf nation promised the world and the football fans the first carbon-neutral World Cup event, Despite the organisers introducing several green initiatives, both FIFA and Qatar officials have been accused of ”greenwashing” the environmental claims surrounding the event.

Hosting the tournament is putting unbelievable strain on our planet

With a massive construction project spanning air-conditioned stadiums, along with the logistical operation including 150 daily flights, the competition has been slammed as one of the biggest environmental disasters in the competition’s history.

In January 2020, Qatar promised to make this tournament carbon-neutral:

 “Our goal is to offset all greenhouse gas emissions while advancing low-carbon solutions in Qatar and the region. A carbon-neutral tournament is delivered through a four-step process : awareness, measurement, reduction and offsetting,”

However despite the implementation of some of the environmentally friendly programmes, many accuse the Qatar organisers of greenwashing the construction of the competition.

Qatar tried to focus on reducing emissions through a number of green programmes

One of the main causes of the pollution are the emission associated with transport and construction infrastructure. One of the main arguments of Qatar officials is the location of the World Cup around one city rather than country and around only one airport.

One of the initiatives includes the construction of Msheireb eco-district destined to house the football fans during the competition. This district located in centre of Doha is covered with solar panels and is accessible by a tram. In addition, vegetation has been planted to cool the atmosphere around the buildings.

Another project is the announcement of the gigantic solar plan designed to cover the country’s 10% of its energy needs.

Greenwashing? That’s why

Unfortunately despite these programmes, greenwashing claims are not unfounded. Despite the reduced transportation distances within the country, vast majority of materials needed to build the stadiums has to be brought from abroad. Solar panels also have a limited life in the hot desert climate of Qatar, which means that they have to be recycled sooner.

Hundreds of tonnes of grass seed had to be flown into the country by planes. The country is also short of water so the grass had to be grown using desalinated water – a process that consumes a lot of energy and is disruptive to the local ecosystem.

Reusing the infrastructure?

Qatar mentioned that the infrastructure will be reused but the authorities are vague about the future of the stadiums and infrastructure.

Whilst stadiums will be used to host the Asian Football World Cup and then as public use-space for schools hotels and clubs, the seventh will be dismantled. This stadium is designed to be fully dismantled and transported to use in future competitions. However, there are no indications of its future use. Transportation of this structure will also cause a pollution that can’t be justified.

Nobody will know what will happen with Msheireb eco-district though. Will it house new tenants or become completely abandoned?

Carbon Offsetting

To meet the carbon-neutrality promises FIFA and Qatar said that they will offset all greenhouse gas emissions by buying carbon credits – supporting CO2 reduction programmes around the world. Unfortunately it seems that the organisers are far away from achieving this. In relation to the emissions caused to the events Qatar must buy 3.6 million credits. At the moemnt they’ve bought only 200.000.

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