Browsing 'environment' News

Vu Bui/Flickr

Photo for illustrative purposes only.

Qatar continues to have one of the world’s heaviest ecological footprints per capita, a new report has found.

Despite efforts by authorities to encourage residents to be more energy efficient, Qatar is the second largest consumer of resources relative to its population, states Data World.

The conclusion is in line with results in other reports in recent years.

That includes the World Wildlife Fund’s Living Planet Report 2014, which also ranked Qatar second globally for its large use of resources compared to its production.

Doha News

For illustrative purposes only

The new study is based on the latest statistics from research group Global Footprint Network. It draws on country data from 1961 to 2013 to come up with an annual National Footprint Account.

Globally, people generally used more resources than nature can replace this year, the study said.

Heaviest users

When measured in absolute terms, the world’s most populous and largest countries used the most resources.

The unit of global hectares used in the study refers to the average amount of resources one hectare of land produces.

Jonathan Kos-Read/Flickr

Photo of Chinese city of Xian for illustrative purposes only.

The larger the footprint, the more land a country needs to offset its resource consumption and to account for its waste.

In terms of heaviest resource users, China was first with over 5 billion global hectares. The US was second with 2.7 billion, and India came in third with 1.3 billion.

Big footprint

Relative to such large nations, Qatar’s small size and population mean it has a tiny environmental impact on the world.

However, when countries were ranked according to their population, Qatar came in second globally, at 12.57 global hectares per person.

Data World

Largest and smallest eco footprints per capita

Luxembourg was first, with just over 13 global hectares, while the US was ranked 6th (8.6). Meanwhile, fellow GCC state Kuwait came in seventh with 8.2 global hectares per person.

At the other end of the table, Eritrea was found to have the lightest ecological footprint, at just over half a global hectare per person.

This means it would take nearly 25 Eritreans to match one Qatar resident’s footprint.

Eco debt

The study also examined countries’ environmental “credits” and “debits,” comparing how much they took from the planet compared to the amount to put back in.

Qatar again was among world’s top eco-debtors.

Data World

Top ecological debtors

The “top” 10 also included Kuwait (third) and Bahrain (sixth). Saudi Arabia came in 13th place, while Oman was 20th. The UAE does not feature in the study.

In contrast, the world’s biggest environmental creditors were the South American countries of French Guiana and Suriname, who have high biocapacity and gave back more to the environment than they consumed.

 

Data World

Overall table of ecological footprints

Energy-producing countries fared high up the list of debtors.

As the country with the world’s third-largest natural gas reserves and little in the way of natural forest or farmland to offset this, Qatar’s position is unlikely to surprise many people.

Affluence

Qatar is not the only affluent country to be spending more than it makes.

In fact, the report found a clear correlation between high levels of GDP and large eco-footprints.

Countries that use the most resources typically have the highest GDP, while countries with low GDPs generally use the least resources. The correlation between the two is strong and positivefootprint increases as GDP increases,” it said.

The report added that larger economies tend to consume more than they produce.

Muhammad Kamran Qureshi/Flickr

Photo for illustrative purposes only.

“As countries look to grow, the trend of environmental destruction will likely continue unless these countries take action to change course,” it said.

Looking forward

Local officials are well aware of Qatar’s heavy consumption of natural resources, along with its lack of fresh water and homegrown food.

They have made energy efficiency and sustainability cornerstones of the 2030 National Vision.

And authorities are also trying to shore up food security by encouraging more farmers to expand their local production.

Reem Saad / Doha News

Qatar Farmer’s Market

Additionally, last year, Qatar signed onto the Paris Agreement, the first universal action plan to tackle global warming. The plan was in the news this week after the US announced it would be pulling its commitment.

These actions signal that change could be afoot.

A Sustainable Cities Index published last year found that Qatar was one of the least environmentally sustainable cities in the world due to its harsh climate, glut of fossil fuels and high levels of energy consumption.

But it did note that Qatar has been making “tremendous progress.”

It added that if the country’s plans to invest more in renewable energy sources bear fruit, its score could improve in the coming years.

Thoughts?

Pixabay

Photo for illustrative purposes only.

In an effort to improve Qatar’s carbon footprint, officials have launched a new effort to increase the number of electric/hybrid cars on the road.

The “Green Car Initiative” is being spearheaded by the ministries of transport and energy, as well as state utilities provider Kahramaa.

In a statement, Kahramaa said the goal is to increase the number of electric or hybrid vehicles to four percent by 2022.

By 2030, the aim is to ensure at least 10 percent of all cars in Qatar operate on electricity, not fuel.

The government will help facilitate this goal by working with Woqod, hotels, malls and other entities to build charging stations across the country.

Speaking to reporters yesterday, Minister of Energy and Industry Dr. Mohammed bin Saleh Al Sada, said:

“Adopting clean energy in transportation would contribute to develop a healthy environment, enhance environmental indicators and reduce harmful carbon emissions by 2022 in accordance with the five-year National Sustainable Development Strategy 2017-2022.”

The five-year strategy has yet to be released to the public.

But it is expected to focus on diversifying the economy away from energy; and protecting the environment, among other things.

Current market

Qatar’s car market is currently dominated by SUVs, though gas guzzlers may be losing their appeal as petrol subsidies fall.

Hybrid vehicles were prominently displayed at this year’s Motor Show, but have not yet made any inroads in Qatar.

Gazanfarulla Khan

The first electric car slated to go on sale in Qatar – the Renault Twizy, as seen at the 2014 Motor Show.

In fact, after Renault debuted its two-door Twizy in Doha during 2014’s show, the vehicle failed to even get government approval to be sold in the country over classification questions.

Meanwhile, some remain skeptical about a future for electric cars in the Gulf due to its searing summer heat.

Three years ago, Thomas Milz, the managing director of Volkswagen Middle East, said the climate could render electric models ineffectual.

“The move to electric cars in this region would especially be in the summer months very, very challenging.

An electric car needs to have the power for driving from the batteries. If those batteries are also used for air conditioning, that would drain the batteries dramatically,” he said.

However, he added that other eco-friendly technologies like compressed natural gas engines and hybrid cars, which use a combination of fuel and electricity to run, could be more practical for the Gulf.

Ameer Abdul Razak/Flickr

Photo for illustrative purposes only.

And since 2014, technology has been rapidly evolving to solve the climate issue.

Still, convincing consumers to switch to eco-friendly vehicles will require a big cultural shift in thinking, Esquire Middle East reports.

Gulf governments can help with this by offering financial incentives to hybrid owners, among other things, experts say.

Thoughts?

US Department of Agriculture/Flickr

Photo for illustrative purposes only.

A new company is taking aim at food waste in Qatar by collecting excess meals from grocery stores and restaurants and redirecting them to people in need.

Wa’hab soft-launched during the recently concluded Qatar International Food Festival, its founder Wardha Mamukoya told Doha News.

During the 11 day-event, the startup recovered some 1,000 “perfectly good, high-quality meals” that would have otherwise gone to waste, she added.

Wa'hab/Facebook

Food collected from the QIFF

The food was given to Eid Charity, which distributed it across Qatar to those who could benefit from it.

According to Mamukoya:

“Although we know for a fact that there are no cases of starvation in Qatar, we believe the less privileged can benefit from the perfectly good food being thrown away by food industries, including high-end five star hotels.”

To tackle what it calls a “mismanagement” in food distribution, Wa’hab is working to create a network that connects surplus food to those in need, she added.

The team

The company, whose Arabic name means give (in service), consists of a core team of five members, and an arsenal of young volunteers.

Thank you so much to our growing team of volunteers including @ahmed_wk430 and @bashar_mohammed13 who helped to collect surplus food from @qiff.qa to redistribute to those in need last night! You guys are awesome!! 👍👍👍 If you would like to volunteer please email your details to [email protected] and we look forward to hearing from you! #wahabqa #sharingiscaring #qatar #doha #food #share #picoftheday #photooftheday #love #help #roadto2022 @roadto2022

A post shared by Wa'hab (@wahab_qa) on

It is operated by CEO Alanood Abdulaziz Jassim Al-Thani; Chief Technology Officer Ramees Muhammed Kakkodan, an expert on food handling and safety; Chief Information Officer Kim Wyatt, aka “Mama Baba Ghanoush;” and co-founder and Chief Financial Officer Shahid Abdusalam.

He is married to Mamukoya, who is also the COO of the company.

In addition to rescuing food, the Wa’hab aims to raise awareness about waste “so as to tackle the problem at its root,” Mamukoya said.

Growing problem

Qatar has one of the highest per capita food wastes in the world – up to 1.8kg per day.

And discarded food accounts for more than half of Qatar’s municipal garbage.

MPCA Photos/Flickr

Photo for illustrative purposes only.

Local researchers have called this practice “shocking” and “unsustainable,” given that Qatar is a desert nation that imports 90 percent of what it eats.

“Food prepared and thrown away leads to loss of capital spent on resource requirements. In addition to saving costs, Wa’hab can also reduce the need to import more food to meet the demands of the growing population,” Mamukoya said.

She added that in the long term, the startup aims to help with food wastage during the 2022 World Cup. It also hopes to expand into other Gulf countries.

“By feeding people and not landfills, Wa’hab can ensure that everyone has enough to eat and portrays Qatar in a positive light. This also can be a motivation for other GCC countries to follow suit,” she concluded.

Thoughts?