It’s been a couple of years since Qatar was awarded the ‘largest carbon footprint in the world‘ title (relative to the size of its population), but it appears little has changed since then. Despite various green initiative such as supporting local farms and ensuring that all new mosques were eco, they are still spewing record amounts of carbon for such a tiny nation. And once again, the nations next on the list were Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates. It seems that old habits die hard and no more so than in the Gulf.
The fact that these countries are amongst the richest nations in the Middle East is clearly part of the problem – well, it’s part of the explanation anyhow. According to the WWF Living Planet report, high-income countries have an ecological footprint on average five times higher than that of low-income nations.
“We are living as if we have an extra planet at our disposal,” said Jim Leape, WWF international director general to Al Jazeera English. “We are using 50 per cent more resources that the Earth can sustainably produce and unless we change course, that number will grow fast — by 2030 even two planets will not be enough,” added Leape.
Denmark and the US were the fourth and fifth rank, respectively, in terms of the size of their carbon footprint per capita. It is important to point out to that whilst the Middle East does contribute 5% of the global carbon emissions, this is relatively small compared to the US which along with Europe emits 32% of global emissions.
So whilst having three gulf nations at the top may seem to indicate a huge environmental problem in the Middle East, the reality is that a few, small but very rich nations are living and spending more lavishly than the average person the US. In fact, research by Carboun showed that Gulf residents produce two to ten times the carbon as the average global citizen. However, overall, the US and other rich developed nations in Europe are contributing the most to climate change.
This survey is conducted every two years and has shown an average 30% decline in biodiversity since the 1970s. This figure rises to 60% in the hardest-hit tropical regions – as we all know, it is the poorest and those who have contributed least to climate change that are worst affected. The WWF is urging governments to implement a change in policy that would reduce human demand for land, water and energy and measure a country’s success beyond its GDP figure.
:: Image of Qatar skyline by Peter Cowan from Shutterstock.com
For more on emissions in the Middle East see:
CO2 Emissions in Middle East to Double in 30 Years
Despite Best Intentions, Gulf Countries Can’t Quit CO2
All New Mosques in Qatar Will Be Eco-friendly