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Qatar 2022’s carbon-neutral claim branded ‘misleading’ in new report

Carbon Market Watch suggests Fifa World Cup will reach goal through ‘creative accounting’.

31 May 2022 Ed Dixon

Getty Images

  • Report says tournament organisers have ignored major sources of emissions
  • Qatar 2022 has been billed as first carbon-neutral World Cup in tournament’s history

Claims from Fifa and local organisers that the Qatar 2022 World Cup will be carbon-neutral have been labelled as misleading in a new report by Carbon Market Watch.

Organisers of the World Cup estimate the event will emit 3.6 megatonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent (MtCO2e), more than some countries produce in a year. However, Carbon Market Watch’s analysis found that this did not accurately represent the tournament’s actual footprint.

The organisation, which scrutinises carbon markets and advocates for effective climate action, believes the calculations ignore major sources of emissions. It adds that the credits being purchased to offset emissions have a low level of environmental integrity, meaning they are unlikely to benefit the climate.

Fifa and Qatar have touted the 2022 showpiece as the first carbon-neutral World Cup in the international soccer tournament’s history. Organisers said this would be achieved in four phases: raising awareness, an inventory informing where emissions come from, carbon reduction, and carbon offsetting.

According to Carbon Market Watch, the goal will likely be achieved through ‘creative accounting’, rather than actually reaching a carbon footprint of net-zero.

The report added that the claim appears ‘far-fetched’ due to the underestimation of the emissions associated with the construction of permanent new stadiums that should be attributed to the tournament.

“It would be great to see the climate impact of Fifa World Cups being drastically reduced,” said Carbon Market Watch’s Gilles Dufrasne, the author of the report. “But the carbon neutrality claim that is being made is simply not credible.

“Despite a lack of transparency, the evidence suggests that the emissions from this World Cup will be considerably higher than expected by the organisers, and the carbon credits being purchased to offset these emissions are unlikely to have a sufficiently positive impact on the climate.”

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