Having just finished high school, I wanted an exciting summer where I could challenge myself. I will be leaving Kuwait, the country I have called home for the past ten years, to live in the most greenhouse gas emitting country in the world, Qatar.
In 2007, Qatar topped the world tables of greenhouse-gas consumption with a staggering 58.01 tonnes per capita. This number is more than double that of Kuwait’s which sits comfortably in third-place at 25.09 tonnes (down from 35 tonnes in 2005). Figures show that this is primarily due to over dependence on fossil fuels, natural gas and the ‘liquid electricity’ phenomenon (obtaining water from an energy-intensive desalination process).But, surely there is more to it.
Over the past few years, Qatar has been making headlines for their recession defying economic development. However, if resources are being depleted at an unsustainable rate in the name of development , is the country really developing?
When I landed at Doha International Airport, I felt like I was in Europe. Not because of the friendliness of the staff but because it was cold. Really col. What struck me as I strutted around in my thick woollen hat was that the staff had clearly acclimatised to this “weather”.
My fascination with the air conditioning system of Doha only grew as I made my way to my new home. As I observed the beautiful architecture of buildings, a combination of vintage and modern aesthetics, I couldn’t help but notice wooden blocks adjacent to the windows. These were disguised split air conditioning units, that stick out all over the country.
Air conditioning is an energy intensive material good that has plagued the GCC region for years, and is responsible for over 20% of the region’s electricity usage. Central air conditioning systems, as I was accustomed to in Kuwait, are 40-60% more efficient than single unit systems utilised in Doha.
Qatar has consistently come out as one of the to producers of greenhouse gases since 1990. Despite Qataris being considered some of the wealthiest people on this planet, the country as a whole is still developing. Thus, under the Kyoto Protocol it has not be subject to any reductions in its emissions.
Qatar is currently bidding to host the 2011 UNFCCC conference. There are a number of environmentally conscious businesses and government initiatives in place. Yet, it is still a country with outdated technologies.
Doha; a class case of two steps forward and one step back.