Qatar Warming to Solar Energy

From The International

By Sarah Carlson

In November 2012, Qatar hosted the 2012 United Nations Climate Change Conference. At the convention, Qatar, along with other Gulf states Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, said they will be making efforts to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions by reforming their energy sectors through the introduction of renewable energy sources. Qatar has also demonstrated strategies for investing and developing solar technologies. Although Qatar is the world’s fourth leading exporter of liquid natural gas, it is also the smallest of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and faces financial and technological obstacles in order for an energy sector reform to be counted a success.

Energy Track Record

Qatar is the leading exporter of liquefied natural gas, with oil and natural gas accounting for more 60 percent of the small country’s gross domestic product. While geographically compact, Qatar has a rapidly growing population of 1.8 million and is the highest per capita income country due to oil and gas exports. The nation is also the highest per capita greenhouse gas emitter. In 2010, Qatar emitted an estimated 64.68 million metric tons of carbon dioxide as a result of energy consumption, and is entirely dependent upon fossil fuels for electricity5.

As a fossil fuel nation, switching to renewable energy has previously been met with apprehension by Qatar as they have not set clear target emission reductions at UN discussions and have anticipated a decreased demand for oil and gas produced by OPEC nations; something that would adversely affect Qatar’s economy. However, Qatar hosted the UN Climate Change Conference of 2012, announcing they would be developing solar technologies in an attempt to reduce carbon dioxide emissions. During the conference, Doha experienced its first environmental march, in which about 800 people rallied for climate change. As a result of increased environmental awareness, Qatar is planning to host a carbon-neutral FIFA World Cup in 2022 and produce 20 percent of their energy from renewable resources by 2024.

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