The World Cup that starts in Qatar at the end of November 2022 will be the first edition that does not emit the slightest gram of carbon dioxide (COtwo). This was announced by the organizing committee and the International Federation of Football Association (Fifa). Seriously ? the climate technology French Greenly did his own calculations. And we seem pretty far off the mark…
The FIFA World Cup in Qatar. There are those who are impatiently waiting for the list of selected French players to be revealed by Didier Deschamps. And there are those who have decided to boycott it. Without hesitation in qualifying the event as “sports, social and ecological scandal”. It is on this last point, and more specifically on the issue of the carbon footprint of the event, that the climate technology French Greenly investigated.
First of all, it should be noted that the organizing committee of this 2022 World Cup, based on the calculations of a specialized firm, estimates that the event will emit some 3.6 million tons of carbon dioxide equivalent (tCOtwome). To fix ideas, remember that this corresponds to the carbon footprint of the Olympic Games in Rio (Brazil) in 2016. But also, double that of the last edition of the World Cup in Russia. Or the annual emissions of a country like Iceland.
Some were surprised. Knowing that, for the occasion, entire stadiums were built in the middle of the desert. The secret of the Qatari organizing committee to not increase its carbon footprint: spread the emissions of these sites… for 60 years! Since, except for one of them, these stadiums must continue to serve after the World Cup. Result: a carbon footprint of about 200,000 tCOtwoe per stage, compared to NLT 1.6 million tCOtwoe as estimated by the NGO Carbon Market Observation. And that’s not counting the hard-to-quantify carbon footprint of their air conditioning, even if some of it will be provided by solar-generated electricity, and the infrastructure built around these stadiums: road networks, hotels, shopping complexes and even parks. . of attractions.
The other big element in the carbon footprint of this FIFA World Cup in Qatar is transportation. Greenly’s calculations give a footprint of about 2.4 million tCOtwoe for transporting fans to the region. In the region, because not everyone will be able to stay there. They will have to find hotels in the area and then take transportation. There could be a question of a plane every 10 minutes! And finally, more than 80,000 tCOtwoe emissions around the event, to which must be added the emissions linked to the transportation of the delegations which, if carried out in private jets, could cost between 5 and 14 times more COtwo than by plane.
The showcase of carbon credits
For Alexis Normand, CEO of Greenly, it is impossible to accurately estimate the carbon footprint of this World Cup in Qatar. “But it seems to want to be at least double what was announced by the organizing committee. And the main criticism that can be made of it lies in the irrationality of holding an event of this type in a country whose climate is not suitable, which did not have the necessary infrastructure -because it is useless in normal times- nor the capacity reception necessary for such an influx of public. public. »
The last point of this balance, which is not specific to the celebration of the World Cup in Qatar: the weight of digital pollution. According to figures from the International Federation of Football Association (Fifa), the last World Cup in Russia had been the reason for almost 35 billion hours of viewing. Based on the average consumption of an LCD screen and the average carbon intensity of electricity in the world, Greenly estimates that the carbon footprint of broadcasting matches will be between 1 and 2 million tCOtwoand alone!
To offset all of this, Qatar says it has planned to invest in carbon credits. Despite everything, making this 2022 World Cup the first carbon-neutral World Cup! The problem is that a month before the start of the competition, only three carbon offset projects had been validated. The equivalent of 5% of the announced objective. And much less, probably, of the actual carbon footprint of the event…