No, Qatar’s World Cup Can’t Be Classed as Carbon-Neutral

SINCE CONTROVERSIALLY BEING awarded the 2022 FIFA World Cup back in 2010, Qatar has promised that the soccer tournament—which kicks off on November 20—will be carbon-neutral. This would be an impressive feat for any major sporting event, given the need to build new infrastructure, accommodate teams and fans, move them around, and run the actual games. But it is an even more daunting challenge in this small Gulf state. Qatar is heavily reliant on fossil fuels, is blisteringly hot, and had barely any suitable facilities prior to the event.

Nevertheless, its organizers insist the tournament will be carbon-neutral. Skepticism about this claim has understandably been rife, as have allegations of greenwashing. Qatar’s sustainability strategy, broadly speaking, relies first on minimizing emissions as best it can—which has obvious limitations, given the need to build stadiums from scratch and operate them with packed crowds in the desert—and then compensating for any remaining emissions using carbon credits. The practice of offsetting draws criticism at the best of times, but the methods and calculations used to get the Qatar World Cup to net-zero are particularly dubious.

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