GRM 2010 GRM 2011

Abstract Details

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Transition to a Low Carbon Society – Case study of Qatar
Paper Proposal Text :
Green economy, in a simple form, is defined as a low-carbon, resource-efficient and socially inclusive. On the contrary, the Gulf countries are high-carbon and inefficient utilization of available resources. Definitely, the path adopted by the GCC countries need to be realigned with the objectives of green economy and accelerate its transition. The thesis will focus on Qatar - addressing policy pathways and sociotechnical innovations (including technologies) that would reduce sectoral greenhouse gas emissions and at the same time provide same economic output. Lifestyle changes are also a part of the green economy, which is beyond the scope of the thesis, having said that, there are several recommendations noted, where citizen-government interaction is needed to achieve this transition.
In 2010, Qatar won the bid for hosting FIFA World Cup and spurred national investment in building world-class stadiums and the necessary infrastructure to cater the need for growing population as well as to the world cup visitors. In the bidding communiqué, Qatar discusses about carbon-neutral stadiums, but the rest of the infrastructure remained to be carbon-intensive. The former will be used temporary, whereas the latter is a permanent one. The logic of carbon neutrality is to appease the international community, but failed to comprehend the real dimension of sustainability. The world-cup infrastructure (the stadiums) is not going to sustain for very long, as it is going to be disposed to the third-world countries. Alongside the carbon neutral stadiums, Qatar has to redirect its investment in building a low-carbon infrastructure. This study would offer various ways to achieve low-carbon transition and this process would go beyond 2022.

Extended Abstract
Climate change and greenhouse gas emission reductions are becoming a national agenda for most of the developed countries in order to meet the Annex 1 Kyoto protocol objectives. And some developing countries realizing the economic benefits of low-carbon society, though the initial transformation would be hugely expensive, but in the long-run this would be more effective. One essential advantage of the developing countries is the possibility of leapfrogging to implement best technologies and develop strategies to achieve a low carbon society.
Qatar is at the zenith in enjoying the benefits of hydrocarbon resources with unprecedented growth in the economy and new infrastructure development. In addition to this, there is growing affluent population. Qatar envisions to become a knowledge economy in 2030 by utilizing its hydrocarbon wealth, but the knowledge economy in the future should be a low-carbon economy. The low - carbon concept is totally missing in much of the discourse of national policies. Sustainability is soft and fragmented. This myopic approach will underestimate the full utilization of the resources. The hydrocarbon resources are finite and shrinking; actions should be systematic and swift. Resource hungry economic and social infrastructure will produce negative implications and threaten the long-term development. Effective combination of supply-side and demand-side policies are pivotal for economic competitiveness, behavioral change and wellbeing of citizens. Qatar recently hosted the COP18 climate change summit, which was the first of its kind in the GCC countries. Qatar, being a non-Annex I country, holds no legal responsibility to reduce the GHG emissions. However, reducing GHG emissions is not only moral responsibility, but also long-term economic development by reducing the inefficiencies across the sectors. This puts an enormous challenge and opportunities to the policy makers to shift that pattern to build a low carbon economy.
Qatar is at its crossroads; it has the option to select the conventional industrial model linked with fossil energy or to choose a low-carbon path with efficient physical infrastructure and appropriate policies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Qatar has the highest emissions per capita, will retain its position at least for the foreseeable time, energy (looking at the energy use per capita figure, Qatar surpasses even the most advanced Scandinavian countries) and water consumption are at an unsustainable level, however, its share in global emissions is negligible. Qatar has so far not committed to reducing national greenhouse gas emissions, but there are fragmented objectives to reduce the flaring emissions and produce 2% of national energy through solar, a decree recently released posthumous of COP18 by Emiri Diwan.
Qatar’s domestic energy consumption will continue to grow until the next decade, and then it will saturate, but this affluent consumption under shrinking resources will be economically damaging. Shifting the policies and investment to clean energy, clean transport, energy efficiency (as a whole, not only in power and water generation but also in the residential-commercial end-use), and phasing out subsidies for water and energy are mandatory to achieve a low-carbon society.

The result of the thesis would offer concrete objectives like; multiple development pathways, a long-term vision for investment, the benchmark for measuring economic and social progress. Low carbon society has multiple social and economic benefits because of high environmental quality, low-public health expenditures, reduced costs for pollution cleanup, economically efficient infrastructure.