Qatar carbon-neutral statement: Goal or Foul?

Nguyen, Phuong D.L.

Following our last blog about the World Cup 2022...

Many matches so far have brought us thrilling and unexpected scores. With how exciting the season can be, we cannot help but overlook the fact that such an event undoubtedly leads to tonnes of
emissions as seen by its prior major sporting events. However, FIFA’s claim about its first-ever carbon neutral World Cup has raised a wave of criticism.

FIFA reported producing 3.63 million tonnes of carbon emissions in total for the 3 phases of the tournament: preparation, the FIFA World Cup itself, and post-tournament. Their claim is based on renewable energy installations which are said to offset greenhouse gas. While the term carbon neutral implies overall zero impact on the planet, this equipment does not remove the carbon already emitted in the atmosphere.

Mike Berners-Lee of Lancaster University reviewed their finding about 10 million tonnes of carbon footprint, which is at least 3 times the amount as previously claimed by FIFA, reported by David
Lockwood & Matt Warwick of BBC Sport on 2/11. What is more, the infrastructure is built from scratch and solely for this purpose and the demand for travel and accommodation occupies 1.2
million people. The methods and calculations of emission reduction and carbon credit compensation to get the Qatar World Cup to net zero are questionable, reported by the non-profit Carbon Market
Watch (CMW) earlier this year.

Overall, the claim has led to the problematic approach of the so-called “carbon neutrality” by the enterprise. Still, it is not right to see past all the effort Qatar has put into organising and raising
awareness about a more sustainable event just because of a misleading poor choice of words.

FIFA is reported to have used regional and eco-friendly materials to construct 7 of 8 stadiums and renovate one. One of the stadiums, stadium 974, is made of shipping containers, which are said to be
refurbished for future use once the tournament is over. The cooling system of the stadiums run by a solar farm can generate and reuse cool air. The air conditioning system is designed to reduce resource leakage by delivering cool air directly to audiences and players, while the shape of the stadiums helps trap the cool air inside. Controversially, the whole certified sustainable design was once again surrounded by a debate over transparency when instead of being verified by existing standards, the organiser set up its own judicial system.

The event calls for accounting transparency and environmental awareness for sporting events, such that future generations do not have to take horrendous consequences of our enjoyment today. Yet, the upcoming matches are still as exciting as ever, so exercise caution and enjoy the rest of the season.

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