The Gulf country has one of the poorest sustainability scores by the number of earths required to sustain life.
Statistics that have made the rounds online have highlighted how Qatar is among the top five worst counties for air quality and sustainability.
According to the 2017 statistics by The World Bank, Qatar comes third in the top five countries globally by the share of the population exposed to polluted air, with approximately 91 percent of breathable air described as polluted.
With 99.7 percent, Nepal tops the list, shortly followed by Niger (94.1 percent), Qatar (91 percent), India (90.9 percent) Saudi Arabia (87.9 percent) and Egypt at (87 percent).
The World Health Organisation considers air with PM2.5 concentrations over 10 micrograms per cubic metre as unhealthy and polluted, and given the Gulf country’s exposure to dirty air, the percentage is significantly high in comparison to other countries.
Meanwhile, another 2017 report by Earth Overshoot Day recorded Qatar as the top country with the poorest sustainability scores, stating that if everybody on the planet lived like Qatar’s population, 9.2 earths’ worth of resources would be required to sustain life.
Luxembourg follows Qatar shortly, needing around 8 earths to sustain life. United Arab Emirates (5.6) and Bahrain (5.4) were also recorded as among the worst five countries in terms of sustainability.
The statistics are calculated by dividing the Ecological Footprint of the country and its biocapacity, giving the number of earths needed to meet residents’ demand on nature.
The higher the number of earths, the worse the ecological deficit, which occurs when the Ecological Footprint of a population exceeds the biocapacity of the area available to that population.
Currently, humanity is using nature 1.7 times faster than the planet’s biocapacity can regenerate, which is equivalent to using the resources of 1.7 earths.
However, 2021 data show that Qatar is now ranked 11 in terms of biocapacity deficit, with around 1,420 percent of ecological footprint exceeding biocapacity, followed by Saudi Arabia (1,290 percent) and Lebanon (1,200 percent).
Despite the worrying statistics, Qatar has been actively working on improving conditions across the country in recent years.
The Gulf nation has engaged in major efforts to boost sustainability and environment preservation with several policies and plans ahead of the much-awaited World Cup 2022.
This includes the execution of major projects in infrastructure and transportation that follow the highest international standards.
Recently, the Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy (SC) collaborated with the environment ministry to install air quality monitoring stations at FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 tournament venues.
Five stations have already been installed around Qatar University training sites to improve air quality, in line with the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 Sustainability Strategy.
The committee also said monitoring stations will be installed at the Al Janoub Stadium precinct soon.
“These stations will monitor and measure air quality according to the weather, along with the percentage of gases and other particles in the air,” said Jassim Al Jaidah, the SC’s Local Stakeholders Relations Manager for Sustainability.
“The data provided will help the SC make informed decisions in relation to improving air quality inside Qatar 2022 tournament venues, in line with the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 Sustainability Strategy,” Al Jaidah added.
Qatar is also set to have 100% electric public transportation in less than a decade, a significant step towards sustainable development.
The awaited football competition will be the first of its kind to use electric mass transit buses, demonstrating Qatar’s commitment to clean energy solutions for transport globally.
In April, authorities announced that more than 1,100 electric buses are set to transport spectators during the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 as part of Qatar’s continued efforts to organise a carbon-neutral mega sporting event.
“The Public Works Authority (Ashghal) in coordination with Qatar General Electricity and Water Corporation (Kahramaa) and the Ministry of Transport and Communications is working to build four parking lots for electric busses to ferry spectators during matches of FIFA World Cup 2022,” said Director of Tarsheed and Energy Efficiency at Qatar General Electricity and Water Corporation (Kahramaa) Abdulaziz Ahmed Al Hammadi.
Al Hammadi confirmed that the number of electric vehicles exceeds 1,100 buses. Some 700 electric charging stations will be built to provide eco-friendly transportation facility for spectators during the matches.
“After FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022, these electric buses will be used as public transport in the country. This is following the directive of high command that all means of transportation for fans will be electric during FIFA World Cup 2022,” he said.
Committed to clean energy
The gradual transportation to full-electric includes public bus services, government school buses, and Doha Metro’s buses. This aims to reduce harmful carbon emissions caused by conventional buses in less than a decade from now, in addition to achieving efforts to maintain environmental sustainability.
Authorities are also working towards establishing an integrated network of electric car chargers, in order to support the ministry’s plan to gradually transform the electric transport system.
Currently, there are some 11 electric chargers operating on a regular basis, with 30 more expected to be installed this year. By the end of next year, 100 more chargers will be added around the country to ensure easy access to sustainable alternatives.
Meanwhile, the region’s largest electric charging station will be established in Lusail City, powered by solar energy and connected to all stations.
Kahramaa confirmed plans to set up 200 to 500 charging points for electric cars across the country by 2022.
They will be located in strategic locations, including shopping malls, residential areas, stadiums, parks and government offices, according to the National Programme for Conservation and Energy Efficiency (Tarsheed).
Qatar is also seeking to produce 700MW from solar panels by 2022.
In 2019, Kahramaa launched Tarsheed Photovoltaic Station for Energy Storage and Charging Electric Vehicles. The station functions as a charging point for vehicles with electricity produced from solar energy via 216 photovoltaic panels that are divided into two areas with a total area of 270 sq m.
“The station contains a unit that has two connections of Combo and CHAdeMO types that are compatible with different types of vehicles. The unit allows two cars to be charged at a time with a rapid charging level of 15 – 20 minutes. The maximum charging capacity is 100kw,” Kahramaa said.
In May, Qatar Investment Authority also bought some $740 million in shares at renewable energy provider Avangrid, acquiring up to 3.7% of its common stock.
The deal came as Avangrid announced plans to sell shares worth $4,000 million to both the Qatar Investment Authority [QIA] and Spanish Iberdrola Group, for $51.40 million each.
Iberdola is the largest shareholder of the US-based renewable energy firm and is purchasing $3.26 million in shares.
Cutting down carbon emissions
Earlier this year, state-owned Qatar Petroleum, the country’s largest energy producer, announced a strategic plan to go greener in efforts to help stem climate change.
The strategy is the company’s roadmap towards achieving Qatar National Vision 2030, is also based on the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals to control planet-warming emissions while providing clean and affordable energy supplies.
“The new Strategy establishes a number of targets in alignment with the goals of the Paris Agreement, and sets in motion a plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 2030,” QP said in a statement.
“It stipulates deploying dedicated Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) facilities to capture more than 7 million tons per annum of CO2 in Qatar,” the statement added.
The project will minimise emissions from Qatar’s LNG facilities by 25% and its upstream facilities by at least 15%.
“Qatar is the world’s largest LNG producer and, by implementing our Sustainability Strategy, we will play a decisive role in helping reduce the impact of climate change by implementing measures to curb emissions, produce LNG using the latest proven carbon reduction technologies, and compensating for residual emissions where necessary,” said the Minister of State for Energy Affairs Saad Sherida Al-Kaabi.
Flare intensity is also set be reduced across upstream facilities by more than 75%.
Exposure to upstream oil extraction has hazardous health impacts on humans and has been linked to cancer, liver damage, immunodeficiency, and neurological symptoms.
Flaring also releases dangerous air pollutants such as black carbon, methane, and volatile organic compounds.
Such toxic pollutants outspread into the atmosphere, leading to environmental issues like acid rain and the generation of greenhouse gases which causes global climate change.
The move is set to eliminate such dangerous impact on health and global climate by 2030.
“Furthermore, it sets out a target to eliminate routine flaring by 2030, and limit fugitive methane emissions along the gas value chain by setting a methane intensity target of 0.2% across all facilities by 2025,” stated by QP.
In the last decade, Qatar has also managed to reduce its electricity and water consumption by about 20% despite the rise in population.
The country has been heavily investing in replacing old power plants with ones with better efficiency, new technologies, and lower emissions.
This has allowed Qatar to become a leader in desalination in recent years to ensure sustainable access to fresh water for its residents and citizens, the report stated.
To make up for the increasing domestic water consumption, new measures have been taken to reduce the demand for wastewater recycling for semi-productive purposes.
The report also indicates that seawater desalination currently takes up more than 60% of the total water consumption in Qatar.