With rapid economic growth and increasing population, Qatar is facing great challenges in protecting the environment while sustaining its natural resources. In a few years, Qatar’s economy boomed and the country made a presence on the global stage. This progress, however, signifies that Qatar has bigger responsibilities at home and abroad, particularly in addressing the alarming environmental problem we are all experiencing, called climate change.
Qatar has stepped up its environmental initiatives and policies to fully achieve its long-term ambitions. Like many other countries, it needed to deal with the diminishing water resources, the rise of energy consumption, effects of air pollution and environmental degradation, not to mention the impact of global warming.
Qatar is among the highest in the GCC countries in terms of water demand. The rising temperature and population have contributed to the need for desalinated water which would force the country to build new desalination plants in the coming years.
Qatar also adopted better water management to reduce network leaks of desalinated water. In 2011, the country developed a programme to ensure that all water consumption is metered to monitor its use.
These water-saving efforts will sustain the country’s water resource which is also used for agricultural development. The establishment of water treatment plants also will help maximise the use of recycled water, especially the wastewater of industrial users.
Due to fast-paced modernisation, Qatar is facing a rise in energy consumption.
Qatar’s need for electricity is the highest in Middle East. And, as the country expands its commercial and residential projects, it is exploring nuclear energy to meet its needs.
At the same time, Qatar is diversifying its energy sources to limit greenhouse gas emissions which is the main cause of global warming.
Qatar has an undeniably high level of carbon emissions in the world due to its soaring use of energy.
The country, being the world’s largest producer of LNG, uses a lot of energy when burning liquefied natural gas. The use of biofuels for the aviation industry and solar panels as an alternative source of energy are included in the long list of Qatar’s environmental initiatives aimed at reducing carbon emissions.
After being dubbed the highest carbon emitter globally, many Qataris have joined hands in a bid to improve the air quality and launch various green initiatives to minimise the impact of climate change.
The country has conducted several studies to control air pollution, and it launched a project to monitor air quality using wireless sensor networks.
Last year, Qatar created an air quality system that would oversee the quality of air in a specific area, and the system is expected to cover the whole of Qatar soon. The country is also developing an early warning tool that would determine the sources of air pollution.
Apart from pollution and natural resources shortage, the huge amount of hazardous waste that threatens health and environment is another problem facing Qatar.
The expanding population and growing industrialization meant that the country needed a proper waste management. The Ministry of Environment earlier this year said that they are looking for companies to set up a new waste management facility.
According to a Ministry official, the new facility will process some 20, 000 tonnes of construction and demolition waste every day.
In the National Development Strategy report, Qatar will establish a waste management plan by 2016 aimed at reducing and recycling the generation of domestic waste.
Qatar has suggested solutions to address its local environmental problems knowing that the worst is yet to come.
The country is now balancing its economic and social progress with environmental protection, so as to sustain development for future generations. But the result of these efforts will not be tremendous considering a few factors.
Across the Middle East and other countries, there is severe drought, virtually no rainfall, worsening of air quality, massive flooding and sandstorms. Qatar, which experiences the same catastrophe, supports the international community in implementing policies that will help nations severely affected by the wrath of climate change.
The state backed the initiatives of the United Nations as well as different local and international organizations by hosting several climate change conferences that will boost public awareness and encourage new researches and innovations.
The global environmental crisis has a domino effect -- when one falls, others will follow, and all will meet the same fate.
The same thing happens with climate change; one activity, if done without moderation, can cause greater impact to society, to the country, to the region, and to the world.
Qatar’s environmental initiatives will not work without the support of its neighbouring countries. Working together is the best possible solution to the looming challenges.
Qatar might have topped the global list of polluters, but its continued efforts will soon make a difference.
As long as the country stands united for one goal, everything is possible. We might blame the rapid modernisation for climate change, but the fact is that we are living in a modern world with advanced technology. Using it means nothing if we can save tomorrow by starting today.