For the environment, an event at the critical stage

For the environment, an event at the critical stage

Al-Bayt Stadium, in Al-Khor, northern Qatar, November 20, 2022.

“Qatar builds green stadiums”, still affirmed the International Football Federation (FIFA) on its site in November 2016. However, this allegation already came up against the verdict of an “ecological aberration” pronounced against this World Cup as soon as it was awarded, six years earlier. Since then, controversies over the environmental impact of the tournament have become all the more heated as awareness of the climate crisis has grown considerably.

Read also: Qatar 2022: the World Cup of excesses

Drawing up this assessment beyond the symbolic dimension is a difficult undertaking, complicated by the reluctance of the organizing country to communicate and by its tendency to deliver contradictory or incomplete data. Between attempts at “greenwashing” on the part of the organizers and systematic “Qatarbashing” by opponents of the event, here are some keys to finding your way around.

The 2022 World Cup, a laboratory for ecological innovations?

The seven new stadiums (out of the eight in the competition), designed by prestigious architectural firms, were built according to ambitious eco-construction and eco-operation standards and present a catalog of sustainable approaches: use of recycled materials, recyclable or produced locally, electricity consumption partly provided by solar energy, LED lighting, water recycling, insulation and optimization of ventilation, revegetation of the surroundings, etc.

the Supreme Organizing Committee ensures, for example, that 79% of solid waste from stadium construction sites has been recycled or reused, and that the air conditioning systems of these structures would improve the energy efficiency of air conditioning.

The Qataris feel some bitterness in the face of criticism of the environmental cost of their World Cup: they feel that they have multiplied sustainable approaches and technological innovations. But these efforts can produce only marginal benefits. “We can use renewable energies and eco-responsible concrete, it’s like putting LED headlights on a diesel car. The gains are derisory compared to the overall cost of the event »summarizes Mael Besson, former head of ecological transition at the French Ministry of Sports.

Is the proximity of the stadiums an advantage?

They were twelve in the candidacy file, before being reduced to eight in 2013, as if reason had prevailed, once the need to impress the FIFA executive committee had passed. Only four have been preserved in the planned locations, the organizers having taken the decision to group all the enclosures in the agglomeration of Doha: the two most distant are about sixty kilometers away, seven stand in a circle of 15 kilometers from Ray. For the first time, a World Cup will be played in a city and no longer in a country.

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