Qatar, “Carbon-neutral” Fifa World Cup? No, just a creative count

FIFA World Cup “carbon neutral” will generate more emissions than Iceland

(Sustainabilityenvironment.com) – There has not yet been the kick-off for the World Cup and we are already witnessing the first own goal. Or rather it is what the Carbon Market Watch group says accusing the Football Federation and Qatar of being very far from the FIFA World Cup carbon neutral so much praised.

According to the non-profit association, the calculations used to make the event seem carbon-neutral ignore some of the main sources of emissions. Furthermore, credits purchased to offset emissions would have a low level of environmental integrity.

The claim that defines it as the first Carbon Neutral Worldcup football, “simply is not credible“. Says Gilles Dufrasne of Carbon Market Watch, the author of the report. “Despite a lack of transparency, the evidence suggests that the emissions from this World Cup will be considerably higher than expected by the organizers, and the carbon credits being purchased to offset these emissions are unlikely to have a sufficiently positive impact on the climate.”

Carbon neutral is far from easy to achieve. It means having no or negligible impact on the climate. For the first time, FIFA has developed a sustainability strategy jointly with the host country, in order to ensure a total reduction in emissions.

To do this, all the stages put high-efficiency solutions in place, to reduce demand and consumption, avoid water waste, and manage waste intelligently. Seven of the eight stadiums that will host the competition were built from scratches, such as the Wakrah Stadium in Zaha Hadid, or the Lusail Stadium in Foster + Partners.

A “compact” competition, but little green

Another strategy employed by FIFA is the choice to make the competition as compact as possible. All World Cup venues are located within 50 kilometers of the center of Qatar’s capital, Doha. The objective was obviously to reduce the number of transports and air flights to a minimum. However, as the report points out, a strategy of this type has provided for the construction of 8 Stadiums in a city like Doha where, until just before the event, only one was enough.
What does it mean in terms of emissions? That the count taken into account by FIFA takes into account only the “sharing of use“. That is, it attributes to the structure only the emissions produced in the short time of the duration of the World Cup, and not of the entire life cycle. The remaining carbon footprint will be attributed to future occupants and their use.

This is problematic because these stadiums have been constructed specifically for the World Cup“, the report continues. “Future extensive use of so many stadiums in such a small geographical space is uncertain”.

Counting emissions down

According to the organizers, the “Carbon neutral FIFA World Cup” will emit about 3.6 megatons of CO2. As many as 1.5 million tons more than the 2018 World Cup in Russia and more than the entire country of Iceland emits in a year.

But for the non-profit Carbon Market Watch, it’s also a number down. The figure would be underestimated by as many as 8 faces, not taking into account the emissions of buildings in their life cycle.

So it would take a large number of credits to offset all the remaining emissions. According to the report, however, these are “low quality” credits calculated on the basis of a standard created specifically for the tournament. A system that, however, has so far recorded only two projects to the credit, amounting to just over 130 thousand credits, against the 1.8 million credits needed to compensate the entire tournament.

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