FIFA Helping to ‘Greenwash’ Qatar Oil Company Primed to Explode Major Carbon Bomb
The world’s eyes are currently on Qatar as the host of the ongoing FIFA World Cup. But, while the tournament’s organizers have been criticized for misleading claims about the event’s carbon neutrality, it turns out that Qatar could have an even more devastating impact on the climate crisis.
The country is sitting on enough fossil fuel reserves to pump 50 gigatons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, 14,000 times the emissions of the international soccer tournament. Exploiting Qatar’s remaining oil and gas fields would make it impossible to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, cause more than $20 trillion in economic damage and lead to 11 million deaths, according to a new report from BankTrack published Thursday.
“There’s a massive amount of emissions about to come from oil and gas taken from Qatar, although there hasn’t been much attention to it until now,” BankTrack climate campaigner and researcher Henrieke Butijn said, as The Guardian reported.
The International Energy Agency (IEA) has said that no new fossil fuel reserves could be extracted if world leaders wanted to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels and avoid the worst impacts of the climate crisis. Despite this, oil and gas companies are still planning to develop 195 projects that would act as “carbon bombs,” as The Guardian reported in May. A carbon bomb is an oil and gas deposit that would release more than a gigatonne of carbon dioxide emissions–which is more than double what the UK emits in a year–over its lifetime, as Leave It In the Ground Initiative director and Leeds University PhD researcher Kjell Kühne explained for The Conversation. There are a total of 425 potential carbon bombs around the world, and making sure they remain in the ground is an urgent priority for climate activists.
Qatar’s North Field gas field is the biggest new carbon bomb, according to The Guardian, and the state-owned QatarEnergy tops a list of fossil fuel companies who have planned to expand operations in the next seven years.
BankTrack noted that Qatar is already a major exporter of fossil gas.
“Qatar’s current fossil fuel extraction already has a huge toll,” Butijn wrote in the report. “The projected damages from its 2021 emissions alone are estimated to be near US$ 200 billion, roughly the same as the country’s total spend over the last decade in World Cup preparations.”
BankTrack further calculated the potential future impact of exploding Qatar’s carbon bomb using the Social Cost of Carbon and Mortality Cost of Carbon metrics. However, while QatarEnergy is the main shareholder in oil and gas projects in the country, U.S. and European fossil fuel companies also stand to benefit. Shell, TotalEnergies, ConocoPhillips, ExxonMobil and Eni have all agreed to work with QatarEnergy on developing the North Field in recent months. QatarEnergy also enjoys financial backing from Western banks like JPMorgan Chase, Citi, HSBC, Deutsche Bank, Goldman Sachs, MUFG, Credit Suisse and Bank of America.
“What’s happening in Qatar is awful in terms of these projects and also worker conditions, but there is a level of hypocrisy here because Qatar isn’t acting alone,” Butijn said, as The Guardian reported.
“Burning fossil fuels is a major contributor to air pollution and climate change causing increasing destructiveness of extreme weather events,” FIFA wrote in promoting the campaign.
Despite this, it has named QatarEnergy as an official partner of the tournament and given it ad space in every stadium, BankTrack pointed out.
“Far from being the first carbon neutral championship, as was claimed by FIFA and Qatar, the football event functions as a greenwashing platform for climate wrecking carbon bombs that have severe consequences,” Butijn wrote.