COP21 Paris: Powered by 200 Megatonnes of Coal-fired CO2

As negotiators around the world gather for what many expect to be a groundbreaking UN climate negotiating session at the 21st Conference of Parties (COP21) which will seek a legally binding agreement on climate action, few may know that their meeting is being funded by the Coal industry. The corporate sponsorship of COP21 creates a dangerous conflict of interest in three key respects. Many of the sponsors are highly invested in oil, gas, coal, and other carbon-polluting sectors, and have a vested interest in obstructing or weakening any real action on climate change. However, with major industrial polluters using their deep pockets to influence climate policy at every level, how will a meaningful agreement be secured?

Corporate Interest at COP21

A new report released by Corporate Accountability International highlights that 4 of the leading sponsors of this year’s UN climate negotiations are collectively responsible for more than 200 megatonnes of CO2 emissions worldwide. The report titled, ‘Fueling the Fire – The corporate sponsors bankrolling COP21’ reveals how European energy giants Engie, Électricité de France (EDF), Suez Environment and BNP Paribas collectively own more than 46 coal-fired power plants around the world, including investments in oil sands exploration in Canada and fracking for shale gas in the UK. This has raised serious concerns ahead of the UN conference as to the role that corporate lobby groups should have, as many feel that this direct financial interest goes against the moral focus of the negotiations.

Patti Lynn, Executive director of Corporate Accountability International noted that the decision to allow these large polluters to sponsor the conference is “akin to hiring a fox to guard a hen house". She also argued that the UN climate negotiation was at risk of becoming a “corporate tradeshows for false market-based solutions.”

The report not only highlights the public behaviour of many of these companies, but also what they do behind the scenes. Earlier this year, ExxonMobil was famously outed for having suppressed knowledge of their role on contributing to Climate Change for the past 30 years.  However, it appears that many of the new conference sponsors have similarly questionable records on direct policy interference. While EDF claims to be “committed to a decarbonized world,” it is an active member alongside ExxonMobil and Shell of Business Europe.  This group has been linked to; openly oppose the “market deployment of energy produced from renewable sources” across Europe.

But it is perhaps their public actions that speak the loudest. In 2014, the sponsoring energy giant Engie directly profited from more than 131 megatons of greenhouse gas emissions. That is equivalent to the pollution emitted from driving a car around the globe 12 million times. "Despite recent announcements to stop new coal projects, Engie still owns 30 dirty coal power plants worldwide." Célia Gautier, policy advisor at Climate Action Network France. The report finally calls for future climate policy-making to be free of corporate interests through directly disallowing large contributors to climate change from the policy-making process, in a similar way that big tobacco was kicked out of health talks a decade ago.

UNFCCC – Twenty Years of Inaction

After two decades of negotiations, the UNFCCC has been unable to achieve meaningful action on climate change. The failure of 20 climate summits to date has corresponded with a dramatic speed up of greenhouse gas emission rates. In fact, since 1988, more than half of all industrial carbon emissions have been released, raising the prospect of irreversible climate change.

Global inaction on climate change is also the consequence of political and economic interference by the fossil fuel industry. For decades, corporations, like ExxonMobil and Shell, have run sophisticated and effective campaigns of denial and deception about climate change. To undermine progress on climate policy and to secure their own profits, they have utilized a range of interference tactics, including financial contributions, corruption and lobbying, PR campaigns, litigation and legal threats, funding junk science, issuing contradictory statements, and sponsoring front groups, think tanks, and trade associations to do their dirty work.

The association of such corporations with the UNFCCC has not simply blocked or impeded meaningful climate action. It also has shifted the focus of negotiations onto market-based solutions, such as carbon prices and trading, as well as onto techno-fixes, such as carbon sequestration, fracking, and nuclear energy none of which have reduced overall emissions globally or spurred wide-spread low-carbon investments in national economies that meet the the deadlines for averting climate chaos. These same corporations have also interfered with the proceedings and operations of the UNFCCC. From the earliest COP meetings to today, transnational corporations and their associated business lobbies have positioned themselves to undermine or influence any potential climate treaty.

Time for Action

The time for action is now. With the world watching, governments must agree to remove the influence of fossil fuel corporations and other polluting industries from climate change negotiations. With precedent established in international law specifically, in the World Health Organization’s Framework Convention on Tobacco Control it is possible to exclude the big carbon polluters from U.N. summits on climate change. Indeed, it is the only way to secure bold, effective policy at COP21 that will curb the effects of climate change and move us to a more just, equitable future for all.

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The Menace of Plastic Water Bottles

During the holy month of Ramadan, the use of drinking water increases many folds as water bottles are supplied and provided especially at ‘Fatoor’ and dinner at religious places, hotels, Ramadan tents and private homes. The main consumption is however, at the religious places due to longer stay of people in offering special night prayers (taraweeh and Qiyam ul Lail). These water bottles are provided in bulk by philanthropists, sponsors and people at religious places to quench the thirst of people who gather for the long prayers.

In the Middle East, it is common to see people greatly misuse this resource considering it free, taking a bottle, sipping it half and leaving it at the venue. These used and partially consumed water bottles are then collected and thrown away in municipal garbage bins from where  it is collected and transported to Askar municipal landfill site located some 25 km away from the city center. These water bottles thus have a high carbon footprint and represent enormous wastage of precious water source and misuse of our other fragile resources. In many cases, these water bottles are being littered around the commercial and religious places.

Plastic water bottles are a common feature in our urban daily life. Bottled water is widely used by people from all walks of life and is considered to be convenient and safer than tap water. A person on an average drinks around 2.0 liters of water a day and may consume 4-6 plastic bottles per day. UAE is considered as the highest per capita consumer of bottled water worlwide. 

We need to understand that plastic is made from petroleum.  24 million gallons of oil is needed to produce a billion plastic bottles. Plastic takes around 700 years to be degraded. 90% of the cost of bottled water is due to the bottle itself. 80% of plastic bottles produced are not recycled.

Globally, plastic recycling rate is very low and major quantities of plastics are being disposed in the landfills, where they stay for hundreds of years not being naturally degraded. Recycling one ton of plastic saves 5.74 cubic meters of landfill space and save cost of collection and transportation.

Water bottles manufacturing, transportation, distribution and again collection and disposal after its use create enormous pollution in terms of trash generation, global warming and air pollution. The transportation of bottled water from its source to stores alone releases thousands of tons of carbon dioxide. In addition to the millions of gallons of water used in the plastic-making process, two gallons of water are wasted in the purification process for every gallon that goes into the plastic bottles.

The first step is that once you open a water bottle, you need to complete consume it to fully utilize the resource. Do not throw the plastic bottles as litter. The solution to the plastic bottles usage lies in its minimum use and safe disposal. Alternatively, a flask, thermos or reusable water bottle can be used which can be refilled as required. It is suggested that religious places, hotels and malls should have efficient water treatment plants to reduce the use of plastic water bottles.

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Waste Management Outlook for Qatar

Qatar is counted among the world’s fastest growing economies as well as richest countries in the world. The rapid industrialization of the country and high population growth generates a lot of wastes in the form of municipal wastes, construction & demolition debris, industrial wastes etc. Annual solid waste generation in Qatar has crossed 2.5 million tons, which corresponds to daily waste generation of more than 7,000 tons per day. The country has one of the highest per capita waste generation worldwide which ranges from 1.6 to 1.8 kg per day.

Solid Waste Management Scenario

Solid waste is mainly comprised of organic materials while the rest of the waste is made up of recyclables like glass, paper, metals and plastics. Waste is collected from across the country and predominantly disposed off in landfills. There are three landfills in Qatar; Umm Al-Afai for bulky and domestic waste, Rawda Rashed for construction and demolition waste, and Al-Krana for sewage wastes. This method of waste disposal by landfill is not a practical solution for a country like Qatar where land availability is limited and only 8% of the waste is recycled.

One of the promising developments in solid waste management sector in recent years has been the creation of Domestic Solid Waste Management Centre (DSWMC) at Mesaieed. This centre is designed to maximize recovery of resources and energy from waste by installing state-of-the-art technologies for separation, pre-processing, mechanical and organic recycling, and waste-to-energy and composting technologies. It will treat 1550 tons of waste per day, and is expected to generate enough power for in-house requirements, and supply a surplus of 34.4 MW to the national grid. 

Government Strategy

The Qatar Government has identified the need for better waste management and has made plans to address this issue in Qatar National Development Strategy 2011-2016. According to this plan the Government proposes to contain the levels of waste generated by households, commercial sites and industry and to recycle much more of the waste generated. Accordingly, the plan prioritizes actions to reduce the pressure on the environment, with the most preferable goal being the avoidance of waste. Where waste cannot be avoided, the preferred goals would be to reduce it, reuse it and recycle it, and the least desirable action is to dispose of materials.

The plan also proposes to initiate new policies to encourage firms to export recycled items and manufacturers to use recycled material. The Government is to consider providing subsidies to encourage more firms to enter the recycling business and public awareness campaigns to encourage waste separation. It also plans to improve collection networks and to provide recycling bins.

To generate new recycling activity sponsored demonstrations and public awareness activities are planned. Citizens will be made aware of the opportunity to use recycled products, such as furniture made from recycled wood or compost produced daily in Mesaieed. Citizens are to be encouraged to see waste reduction and recycling as a duty with the welfare of future generations in mind.

The critical step in establishing a solid waste management plan will be to coordinate responsibilities, activities and planning. The plan, to be aligned with the Qatar National Master Plan, will cover households, industry and commercial establishments, and construction and demolition. The plan will also provide classifications for different types of domestic and non- domestic waste, mapping their sources.

Future Perspectives

When the Qatar National Development Strategy 2011-2016 was conceived, the plant at Mesaieed might have been seen as an ideal solution, but by the time the project was completed the capacity of the plant to handle waste has been overwhelmed. The centre in Mesaieed can treat only 1550 tons of the 7000 tons generated everyday and this is only going to increase in future. Qatar needs a handful of such centers in order to tackle the growing menace of urban wastes.

While steps are being taken to handle waste generated in future, the Government needs to focus on creating mass awareness about 4Rs of waste management viz. Reduce, Reuse, Recycle and Recovery. If this can be achieved then the public can be expected to play its part in helping to reduce the generation of waste and in recycling waste by making the process easier by segregating waste at the source. The public needs to be made aware of its responsibility and duty to the future generations. Since Qatar is predominantly a Muslim country, the government may also take help of Islamic scholars to motivate the population to reduce per capita waste generation.

Improvement in curbside collection mechanism and establishment of material recovery facilities and recycling centres may also encourage public participation in waste management initiatives. After a period of public education and demonstration, segregation-at-source needs to be implemented throughout the country. Legislation needs to be passed to ensure compliance, failure of which will attract a penalty with spot checks by the Government body entrusted with its implementation.

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Energy Efficiency in Saudi Cement Industry

Saudi Arabia is the largest construction market in the Middle East, with large development projects under way and many more in the planning stage. The cement industry in the country is evolving rapidly and is expected to reach annual clinker production of 70 million tonnes in 2013 from current figure of 60 million tonnes per year. The cement industry is one of the highest energy-intensive industries in the world, with fuel and energy costs typically representing 30-40% of total production costs. On an average, the specific electrical energy consumption typically ranges between 90 and 130 kWh per tonne of cement. Keeping in view the huge energy demand of the cement industry, the Saudi Arabian government has been making efforts to reduce the energy consumption in the country towards a more sustainable.

Energy Demand in Cement Production

The theoretical fuel energy demand for cement clinker production is determined by the energy required for the chemical/mineralogical reactions (1,700 to 1,800 MJ/tonne clinker) and the thermal energy needed for raw material drying and pre-heating. Modern cement plants which were built within the last decade have low energy consumption compared to older plants.  The actual fuel energy use for different kiln systems is in the following ranges (MJ/tonne clinker):

  • 3,000 – 3,800 for dry process, multi-stage (3 – 6 stages) cyclone preheater and precalcining kilns,
  • 3,100 – 4,200 for dry process rotary kilns equipped with cyclone preheaters,
  • 3,300 – 4,500 for semi-dry/semi-wet processes (e.g. Lepol-kilns),
  • Up to 5,000 for dry process long kilns,
  • 5,000 – 6,000 for wet process long kilns and
  • 3,100–6,500 for shaft kilns.

Energy Efficiency in Cement Industry

With new built, state-of-the-art cement plants, usually all technical measures seem to be implemented towards low energy consumption. So, how to reduce it further?

Energy efficiency is based on the following three pillars

  • Technical optimization
  • Alternative raw materials for cement and clinker production
  • Alternative fuels

In Europe, the new energy efficiency directive from 2011 intends to reduce the energy consumption of the overall industry by 20%, achieving savings of 200billion Euros at the energy bill and with the goal to create 2 million new jobs within Europe. This approach will have a significant influence also on the cement industry. Saving 20% of the energy consumption is a challenging goal, especially for plants with state-of-the-art technology.

In older plants modernizations in the fields of grinding, process control and process prediction can, if properly planned and installed, reduce the electricity consumption – sometimes in a two digit number.

Alternative Fuels

Alternative fuels, such as waste-derived fuels or RDF, bear further energy saving potential. The substitution of fossil fuel by alternative sources of energy is common practice in the European cement industry.The German cement industry, for example, substitutes approximately 61% of their fossil fuel demand. The European cement industry reaches an overall substitution rate of at least ca. 20%.

Typical “alternative fuels” available in Saudi Arabia are municipal solid wastes, agro-industrial wastes, industrial wastes and some amount of crop residues. To use alternative or waste-derived fuels, such as municipal solid wastes, dried sewage sludges, drilling wastes etc., a regulatory base has to be developed which sets

  • Types of wastes/alternative fuels,
  • Standards for the production of waste-derived fuels,
  • Emission standards and control mechanism while using alternative fuels and
  • Standards for permitting procedures.

Alternative Raw Materials

The reduction of clinker portion in cement affords another route to reduce energy consumption. In particular, granulated blast furnace slags or even limestone have proven themselves as substitutes in cement production, thus reducing the overall energy consumption.

To force the use of alternative raw materials within the cement industry, also – and again –standards have to be set, where

  • Types of wastes, by-products and other secondary raw materials are defined,
  • Standards for the substitution are set,
  • Guidelines for processing are developed,
  • Control mechanisms are defined.

Conclusions

To reduce the energy consumption, an energy efficiency program, focusing on “production-related energy efficiency” has to be developed. Substantial potential for energy efficiency improvement exists in the cement industry and in individual plants. A portion of this potential will be achieved as part of (natural) modernization and expansion of existing facilities, as well as construction of new plants in particular regions. Still, a relatively large potential for improved energy management practices exists and can be exhausted by determined approaches.

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فوائد لا تحصى للأراضي الرطبة

لطالما أغفلنا روعة وأهمية الأراضي الرطبة بسبب جهلنا للميزات العديدة لهذا النظام البيئي. و لطالما استخدم مصطلح الأراضي الرطبة   للتعبير عن المستنقعات العكرة  المليئة بالبعوض أو الأراضي غير المستغلة التي تحتاج إلى بعض التحسينات لتكون أكثر إفادة للإنسان. و قد أدى هذا التقليل من شأن وأهمية الأراضي الرطبة إلى فقدان الكثير منها، الأمر الذي استلزم التوقيع على معاهدة الأراضي الرطبة في رامسار، في إيران عام 1971. ولا تزال تلك المعاهدة تعد بمثابة الحركة الدولية للمحافظة على الأراضي الرطبة، حيث تضم أكثر من 160 دولة موقعة.

لقد وضح الراحل نيلسون مانديلا روعة التنوع البيولوجي الموجود في الأراضي الرطبة عندما ذكر منطقة القديس لوسيا في خطاب له قائلاً: "نستطيع القول أن الأراضي الرطبة هي المكان الوحيد على الكرة الأرضية الذي يتعايش فيه أقدم الثدييات البرية في العالم (وحيد القرن) وأكبر الثدييات البرية (الفيل) مع أقدم الأسماك في العالم ( سمك سيلكانث) وأكبر الثدييات البحرية في العالم الحوت)".

و يمكن أن تكون الأراضي الرطبة طبيعية أو اصطناعية، كما يمكن أن تكون مشبعة بمياه عذبة أو مالحة أوآسنة (و هي المياه التي تكون نسبة ملوحتها عالية ولكن ليس بقدر ملوحة مياه البحر)، هذا وتدعم هذه الأراضي الغطاء النباتي الذي يتم تكييفه خصيصا للنمو في التربة المشبعة. و بصرف النظر عن خصائصها الفريدة، فإن الأسرار الحقيقية لهذه الأراضي تكمن في منافعها المتعددة للإنسان وللبيئة.

و تعد واحدة من أهم خصائص هذا النظام البيئي المدهشة هو أنه يعد بمثابة اسفنجة أو نظام طبيعي للسيطرة على الفيضانات. حيث أن طبيعية الأراضي الرطبة تمكنها من استيعاب مياه الأمطار وبالتالي تقليل كمية الماء التي تصل إلى الأنهار والجداول مما يقلل بشكل طبيعي من خطر الفيضانات. ويساعد اتساع السهول الفيضية  أيضا على التحكم في حركة و تخزين مياه الأمطار. و بالإضافة إلى ذلك، فإن الميزة المدهشة الأخرى للأراضي الرطبة هي قدرتها على تنقية المياه من خلال احتجازها للملوثات داخل التربة والغطاء النباتي. وعليه فإن الأراضي الرطبة تعتبر فعالة جدا في تنقية المياه ولذا يتم استخدامها لتنقية المياه العادمة الناتجة عن الصناعة والتعدين و مياه الصرف الصحي.

و علاوة على ذلك، تساهم الأراضي الرطبة في تجديد إمدادات المياه الجوفية والتي تعتبر مصدرا هاما لتزويد المياه. كما تدعم حياة مجموعة كبيرة ومتنوعة من الأنواع الحيوانية والنباتية. و على الرغم من المزايا الإيجابية  المتعددة لهذه لأراضي إلا أنه وللأسف، هناك العديد من العوامل التي تهدد هذا النوع من المناظر الطبيعية. فعلى سبيل المثال،  تعاني الأراضي الرطبة في جنوب أفريقيا من عدة مشاكل تهدد ديمومتها منها: الرعي الجائر، والتلوث بالمبيدات الحشرية، والنمو التجاري والنباتات الدخيلة وسوء إدارة مياه الأمطار في المناطق الحضرية..

و في المناطق الجافة في الشرق الأوسط، و نظرا لزيادة الطلب على المياه العذب فإن الأراضي الرطبة الداخلية، مثل الأنهار والبحيرات، بدأت في طريقها إلى الاضمحلال، و تعتبر واحة الأزرق (وهي موقع رامسار الوحيد في الأردن) ونهر الموجب من الأمثلة الجيدة على  الوضع الحرج للمياه في الشرق الأوسط. وتواجه الأراضي الرطبة في العراق أيضا خطر الاندثار كنتيجة لعقود ممتدة من الصراعات وسوء الإدارة بالإضافة إلى قربها من الحقول النفطية. ويعد فقدان الأراضي الرطبة مؤشراً واضحاً على مشاكل تتعدى كونها مشاكل انخفاض وفرة المياه؛ فهي مشكلة تهدد البيئة والناس الذين كانوا يعتمدون على هذه المناطق.

وبوصفنا حماة لهذه لأرض، فإن من مسؤوليتنا أن نخصص بعض الوقت ليس فقط للزيارة ومعرفة المزيد عن هذه البيئات ولكن ينبغي أن نشارك في مشاريع للمساعدة في حفظ وحماية وإعادة تأهيل النظم البيئية للأراضي الرطبة المتبقية في جميع أنحاء العالم. وفقنا الله وبارك لنا بوفرة في جهودنا لتحافظ على واستعادة بيئتنا(آمين).

 

ترجمة 

سمرطه

أخصائية في مجال البيئة  قامت بدراسات أثر بيئية لعدة مشاريع مختلفة في الأردن، حاصلة على درجتي الماجيستير في التقييم والمراقبة البيئية والعلوم البيئة وإدارتھا وبكالوريوس في إدارة المياه والبيئة.

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Need of Sustainability Communication in the Middle East

sustainability-communicationEnvironmental and sustainability awareness has been around in the society for quite some time now; and buzzwords like ‘ecofriendly’, ‘green’ and ‘sustainable’ seem to be omnipresent. In spite of the proliferation of these eco-buzzwords, the state of sustainability communications remains poor and lacking in authenticity. This poor state of sustainable communication, aided by insufficient focus on authenticity, further allows unscrupulous organizations to ‘green wash’ their business or products. The ‘greenwashing’, coupled with a lack of environmental knowledge on the consumer side engenders confused consumers who either despise any of the green eco-buzzwords or blindly accept green-washing as true sustainability.

Currently, sustainability initiatives, be it local government or international, do not reach the common man. People are still under impression that a few cursory steps towards ecofriendly lifestyle are enough. All in all sustainability is not yet properly understood in society. Most people wish to be more environmentally friendly but don’t know how. This is where sustainable communication can help.

Sustainability Communication for Businesses

There are two key elements to business sustainability communications:

  • Real Sustainability Efforts
  • Plentiful Sustainability Communication (external as well as internal).

Both of these elements are necessary. Without the former it’s a misleading greenwash, while without the latter, it’s a pocket of concentrated sustainability effort which will wither and die if the department handling this effort is disassembled.  

For sustainability communications to work for businesses in the Middle East, there has to be real sustainability commitment and efforts from the business to make their product and services more sustainable. In this day and age of the internet, transparency and traceability about products and services are indispensable features which can prove the authenticity of the commitment of a business to sustainability goals.

There has to be external as well as internal sustainability communication for any organization which is taking efforts towards sustainability. The employees should get to know better about practicing sustainability policies or actions planned and implemented by that business. The employees can also act as sustainability advocates of that organizations. In addition to having budget for CSR, organizations need to keep some time or fund aside for internal sustainability communication. In the long run these efforts can help organizations to stand out in the market.

Sustainable Communication in Media

If you open any newspaper or publication you are able to find some articles or information on the topic but most show a lack of clarity, and many appear to be written just as a formality. As an industry insider I can even reveal that most of the related news are mostly copy paste of original press releases sent by respective organizations. But if you look at other topics like lifestyle, fashion, those are well talked about, researched by in almost every publication.

Unfortunately we still don’t have enough qualified and expert sustainability journalists and writers in the region who actually understand what they are writing about. If you take example of Europe or Americas, they have many expert sustainability writers who write for main stream media and make sure the right information is reaching the society.

In general media in Middle East, though it’s newspaper or radio/TV channels need to give more attention to invest in qualified sustainability writers to acquire integrity and quality of sustainable communication.

Another issue of sustainable communication is it can take the form of an apocalyptic discussion, if you talk about environmental impact. People lose interest in such discussions quickly. Actually the statistic shows people in Middle East spend more time on internet than people from most other parts of world. But we need to accept that they prefer to have some light reading. We also need to create sustainability dialogue relevant to life of our readers and provide useful information for daily routine.

Instead of just talking about what is good and what is not, we need to show examples of doing good for environment, choosing sustainable options. So this takes me to my last point of sustainable communication, do what you preach. If we want our readers not just read but make changes in their lives; first we need to show how sustainable we practitioners are living. This will not only make sustainability relatable but also doable.

Demographics of Sustainability Communications

One important observation I have made, and many people in the field will agree, is that sustainability topic is well received by younger generation or millennials. These young people are pushing their parents and families to opt for more sustainable choices.

I would like to share one such personal experience. One of my readers contacted me and told her child insists on taking reusable bags with them all the time. Apart from how proud I felt about my reader and of course, her child, I was glad to know that the push of sustainable action is coming from young people.

When you communicate your sustainability efforts, be open for any feedback and criticism

When you communicate your sustainability efforts, be open for any feedback and criticism

During my eco-talks in schools, I always get positively surprised by how much these young kids know about environment and sustainability as compared to their adult counterparts. So we need to focus and include these young people in sustainable communication.

Consumer-Initiated Sustainable Communication

In this big market of consumers, we have almost no sustainable communication at consumer end. No surprise the region is facing larger issues like waste, waste recycling, and one of the highest rates of plastic consumption. We still lack sustainable communication initiated by consumers. What is needed in this region is a responsible consumer feedback.

Take the example of mending and renting services. The general shortage of mending and renting services a big indication of how the region has morphed itself a consumer’s paradise. This makes it critically difficult to create green consumerism as, market price, and availability in the market currently affects consumers much more than what the consumers really want.

However several consumers (more than we can perceive) would like to go back to the good old days when one really owned something, they used it for several years, got it mended over and over, and kept using it. It’s even better if the same brands are providing these mending and repair services of their own products in the region.

So if we could involve consumers in sustainability communication and dialogue, businesses can get feedback on what is truly missing, which will surely help them to make their business more sustainable.

Conclusion

Preaching what good you practice is not necessarily pompous if it is going to help the society be more sustainable. However at the core of any sustainable communication is a real effort in being sustainable, be it sustainability in energy, water, waste, or social. The golden rule is, there is no knowledge without feedback of your actions, so when you communicate your sustainability efforts, be open for any feedback and criticism. This way we can create a positive loop of real sustainability actions, active and transparent communications, feedback and improvement, and better, more effective sustainability actions.

 

About the Author

Amruta Kshemkalyani, is an experienced sustainability professional and top sustainability influencer/advocate in UAE. While working in sustainable development field, she is also spreading environmental and sustainable living awareness in UAE through her blog www.sustainabilitytribe.com since 2009. 

Twitter: https://twitter.com/amrutant      

Linkedin: https://ae.linkedin.com/in/amrutakshemkalyanitavkar

 

Bioenergy Resources in Jordan

 

With high population growth rate, increase in industrial and commercial activities, high cost of imported energy fuels and higher GHGs emissions, supply of cheap and clean energy resources has become a challenge for the Jordanian Government. Consequently, the need for implementing renewable energy projects, especially solar, wind and biomass, has emerged as a national priority in recent years.

Jordan has substantial biomass resources in the form of municipal solid wastes, sewage, industrial wastes and animal manure. Municipal solid wastes represent the best source of biomass in Jordan. Solid waste generation in the country is approximately 2 million tons per annum, with per capita of almost 1 kg per day. The daily waste generation exceeds 6,000 tons which is characterized by high organic content (more than 50 percent). Food waste constitutes almost 60% of the total waste at most disposal sites. In addition, more than 2 million cubic meter of sewage sludge is generated every year from treatment of sewage water in Greater Amman area which could be a very good source for biogas generation.

Apart from MSW, the other potential biomass resources in the country are as follows:

  • Organic wastes from slaughterhouse, vegetable market, hotels and restaurants.
  • Organic waste from agro-industries
  • Animal manure, mainly from cows and chickens.
  • Olive mills.
  • Organic industrial waste

Organic industrial wastes, either liquid or solid, are a good substrate for biogas generation by making use of anaerobic digestion process. Anaerobic digestion of organic industrial waste is fast gaining popularity worldwide as one of the best waste management method. The utilization of anaerobic digestion technology for industrial waste management would be a significant step in Jordan’s emergence as a renewable energy hub in the MENA region. Jordan is planning to implement 40-50 MW of waste-to-energy projects by 2020.

Biogas Plant at Rusaifeh Landfill

The Government of Jordan, in collaboration with UNDP, GEF and the Danish Government, established 1MW biogas plant at Rusaifeh landfill near Amman in 1999.  The plant has been successfully operating since its commissioning and has recently been increased to 4MW. The project consists of a system of twelve landfill gas wells and an anaerobic digestion plant based on 60 tons per day of organic wastes from hotels, restaurants and slaughterhouses in Amman. The successful installation of the biogas project has made it a role model in the entire region and several big cities are striving to replicate the model.

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Renewable Energy in GCC: Need for a Holistic Approach

The importance of renewable energy sources in the energy portfolio of any country is well known, especially in the context of energy security and impacts on climate change. The growing quest for renewable energy and energy efficiency in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries has been seen by many as both – a compulsion to complement the rising energy demand, and as an economic strength that helps them in carrying forward the clean energy initiatives from technology development to large scale deployment of projects from Abu Dhabi to Riyadh.

Current Scenario

The promotion of renewable energy (RE) is becoming an integral part in the policy statements of governments in GCC countries. Particular attention is being paid to the development and deployment of solar energy for various applications. Masdar is a shining example of a government’s commitment towards addressing sustainability issues through education, R&D, investment, and commercialization of RE technologies. It not only has emerged as the hub of renewable energy development and innovation but is also acting as a catalyst for many others to take up this challenge.

With the ongoing developments in the clean energy sphere in the region, the growing appetite for establishing clean energy market and addressing domestic sustainability issues arising out of the spiralling energy demand and subsidized hydrocarbon fuels is clearly visible. Saudi Arabia is also contemplating huge investments to develop its solar industry, which can meet one-third of its electricity demand by the year 2032. Other countries are also trying to reciprocate similar moves. While rationalizing subsidies quickly may be a daunting task for the governments (as for any other country, for that matter, including India as well), efforts are being made by UAE to push RE in the supply mix and create the market.

Accelerating Renewable Energy Growth

However, renewable energy initiatives are almost exclusively government-led projects. There is nothing wrong in capitalizing hydrocarbon revenue for a noble cause but unless strong policies and regulatory frameworks are put in place, the sector may not see viable actions from private players and investors. The present set of such instruments are either still weak or absent, and, therefore, are unable to provide greater comfort to market players. This situation may, in turn, limit the capacity/flexibility to reduce carbon footprints in times to come as government on its own cannot set up projects everywhere, it can only demonstrate and facilitate.

In this backdrop, it is time to soon bring in reforms that would pave way for successful RE deployment in all spheres. Some of the initiatives that need to be introduced or strengthened include:

  • Enabling policies for grid connected RE that should cover interconnection issues between RE power and utilities, incentives, facilitation and clearances for land, water, and environment (wherever relevant); and
  • Regulatory provisions relating to – setting of minimum Renewable Purchase Obligation (RPO) to be met, principles of tariff determination for different technologies, provisions for trading in RE, plant operation including scheduling (wherever relevant), and evacuation of power.
  • Creation of ancillary market for effectively meeting the grid management challenges arising from intermittent power like that from solar and wind, metering and energy accounting, protection, connectivity code, safety, etc.

For creating demand and establishing a thriving market, concerted efforts are required by all the stakeholders to address various kinds of issues pertaining to policy, technical, regulatory, and institutional mechanisms in the larger perspective. In the absence of a strong framework, even the world’s most visionary and ambitious project Desertec which  envision channeling of solar and wind power to parts of Europe by linking of renewable energy generation sites in MENA region may also face hurdles as one has to deal with pricing, interconnection, grid stability and access issues first. This also necessitates the need for harmonization in approach among all participating countries to the extent possible.

Conclusions

It is difficult to ignore the benefits of renewable energy be it social, economic, environmental, local or global. Policy statements are essential starting steps for accelerating adoption of clean energy sources including smaller size capacity, where there lies a significant potential. In GCC countries with affluent society, the biggest challenge would be to create energy consciousness and encourage smarter use of energy among common people like anywhere else, and the same calls for wider application of behavioural science in addressing a wide range of sustainability issues.

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Food Security Strategy in Qatar

Qatar is a water-scarce and arid region which has its own share of demographic and socio-economic problems. The cultivation of food crops is a difficult proposition for Qatar due to scarcity of water supply and limited availability of arable land. The country is vulnerable to fluctuations in international commodity markets because of heavy dependence on imported grains and food items. The increasing dependence on foreign food imports is leading to a growing sense of food insecurity in Qatar.

Understanding Food Security

Food security is the condition in which all people at all times have a physical and economic access to safe, adequate and nutritious food to satisfy their daily calorific intake and allow them to lead an active and healthy life. Individuals who are food secure have an access to a sufficient quantity of food and do not live in fear of hunger and starvation. On the other hand, food insecurity exists simultaneously and inhibits certain groups of individuals from gaining access to nutritionally adequate and safe food. In the case of Middle East and North Africa (MENA) countries, food insecurity is related to poor quality diets rather than calorie-deficient diets. A typical diet in MENA region is high in saturated fats, sugar and refined foods which is a major cause for increase in chronic diseases in the region.

There are a multitude of factors which may challenge a nation from achieving food security. Some of these factors include; the global water crisis and water deficits which spur heavy grain imports in smaller countries ultimately leading to cutbacks in grain harvests. Similarly, intensive agriculture and farming drastically influence soil fertility and cause a decline in crop yield. Another notable factor limiting food security includes the adverse effects of climate change such as droughts and floods which greatly affect the agricultural sector.

The impacts of declining crop yields will include a change in productivity, livelihood patterns as well as economic losses due to declining exports. According to the Global Food Security Index, countries which are on top of the food security index include USA, Norway and China. The countries suffering from greatest food insecurity include, Democratic Republic of Congo, Togo and Chad.

Food Security Strategy in Qatar

Being one of the fastest growing economies in the world, Qatar is facing large-scale influx of expatriate workers which has resulted in tremendous increase in population in recent years. Limited land availability, chronic water scarcity and constraints in agricultural growth have led to growing concerns about food security. Agriculture plays a strategic role in the nation’s food security. Qatar imports over 90% of its food requirements due to the scarcity of irrigation water, poor quality soils and the inhibitions due to climatic conditions. Infact, the country is facing an agricultural trade deficit of QR. 4.38 billion equivalent to $1.2 billion. 

In response, Qatar has begun to address the situation by aiming to efficiently utilize ‘cutting edge technology’ to establish a sustainable approach to food security for dry land countries. The Qatar National Food Security Program (QNFSP) was established in 2008 and aims to reduce Qatar’s reliance on food imports through self sufficiency. The program will not only develop recommendations for Food Security policy but intends to join with international organizations and other NGOs to develop practices to utilize resources efficiently within the agricultural sector.

Qatar has established a nation-led National Food Security Program to encourage domestic production which will lead to scientific and technological development in two specific areas to increase domestic production. These areas include development in agricultural enhancement and food processing. QNFSP’s approach to expanding the agricultural sector aims to introduce the best practices and establishing a sector which considers its economic efficiency, optimal usage of scarce resources with limited impact on the environment as well as profitable and sustainable agriculture. A key element of this approach will include the deployment of advanced crop production technologies and advanced irrigation systems. The QNFSP will require well managed stakeholder participation, revised agricultural possibilities and of course a comprehensive strategy for agricultural research.

The nation’s second approach to increase domestic production includes regulations and implementations on food processing. Food processing increases the shelf-life of food, reduces raw food losses and enables the continuity of product availability. By enhancing the shelf-life of food and reducing the amount of food being wasted improves a nation’s food security. The QNFSP aims to develop the nation’s food processing industry by taking advantage of the new industry being established in Qatar which will allow the country to sell its own processed goods on the global market. To meet this objective the nation will need to implement international quality assurance mechanism to be capable of producing high quality products as well as to expand their food reserves and storage facilities.

Sahara Forest Project

In addition to the trenchant efforts being made by the Qatar National Food Security Program, an interesting and promising pilot project named Sahara Forest Project is being rigorously pursed in Qatar. The Sahara Forest Project allows for sustainable production of food, water and energy while revegetating and storing carbon in arid areas.

A one hectare site outside Doha, Qatar, hosts the Sahara Forest Project Pilot Plant. It contains a unique combination of promising environmental technologies carefully integrated in a system to maximize beneficial synergies. A cornerstone of the pilot is greenhouses utilizing seawater to provide cool and humid growing conditions for vegetables, The greenhouses themselves produce freshwater and are coupled with Qatar’s first Concentrated Solar Power plant with a thermal desalination unit.

An important part of the pilot is to demonstrate the potential for cultivating desert land and making it green. Outdoor vertical evaporators will create sheltered and humid environments for cultivation of plants. There are ponds for salt production and facilities for experimentation with cultivation of salt tolerant plants, halophytes. Additionally, the facility also contains a state of the art system for cultivation of algae.

References

Sahara Forest Project. "Sahara Forest Project in Food Security Program on Qatar TV." Sahara Forest Project. N.p., 2012. Web. 10 Dec. 2013. <http://www.goo.gl/ICjuKN>.

QNFSP. "Qatar Steps up to Food Security and World Hunger." Qatar National Food Security Programme. QNFSP, 2011. Web. 9 Dec. 2013. <http://www.qnfsp.gov.qa>.

Farhad Mirzadeh. "Qatar’s Seeks Solutions to Food Insecurity." American Security Project. N.p., 28 Oct. 2013. Web. 9 Dec. 2013. < http://www.goo.gl/LvY2em />

Bonnie James. "Qatar Food Security Plans Get a Boost." Gulf Times. N.p., 4 Nov. 2013. Web. 10 Dec. 2013. <http://www.goo.gl/wSc27F>.

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الطاقة الشمسية في سلطنة عُمان: الإمكانيات والتقدم

solar-project-omanالطاقة الشمسية هي الحل الحيوي والاستراتيجي لتوفير الطاقة الكهربائية في سلطنة عمان. وبالنظر إلى الأراضي الواسعة الغير مستغلة وموارد الطاقة الشمسية المتاحة, عمان لديها إمكانات ممتازة لتطوير الطاقة الشمسية والتوسع فيها. الطاقة الشمسية خيارا قابلا للتطبيق في عمان ولا يمكن فقط أن تلبي الحاجة المتزايدة لتنويع مصادر الطاقة ولكن أيضا من شأنه أن يساعد في التنويع الاقتصادي.

مع الاعتماد الكلي على الوقود الأحفوري وزيادة عدد السكان جنبا إلى جنب مع المناطق الصناعية في المدن مثل الدقم وصحار وصلالة والبنية التحتية للطاقة والنفط والغاز احتياطيات عمان تشكل تحديا على النمو الاقتصادي. الأهمية الاستراتيجية والموقع الجغرافي لعمان يجعلها قابلة لتطبيق و لتسخير تكنولوجيات الطاقة المتجددة على حد سواء، لزيادة تطوير اقتصادها. أنها تساعد ليس فقط في الحد من الاعتماد على الوقود الأحفوري ولكن يساعد في خلق بيئة أنظف ومستدامة أيضا. خدمات الأبحاث والتطوير والتكنولوجيا العالية المتعلقة بالطاقة المتجددة يمكن أن تخلق الأعمال الجديدة والتوظيف في سلطنة عمان، ويمكن أن تجلب تغييرا جذريا في تنويع الاقتصاد العماني.
وضع الطاقة الشمسية في سلطنة عمان
عمان تستقبل كميات هائلة من الإشعاع الشمسي على مدار العام والتي هي من بين أعلى المعدلات في العالم، و هناك مجالا كبيرا لتسخير وتطوير موارد الطاقة الشمسية في جميع أنحاء السلطنة. قيم متوسط ​​مدة سطوع الشمس اليومية والإشعاع الشمسي  في 25 موقعا في عمان كبيرة، إذ أن أعلى إشعاع شمسي في السلطنة يوجد في منطقة مرمول تليها فهود وصحار و قيرون حيريتي. وكذلك أعلى تشمس للطاقة الشمسية لوحظ في المناطق الصحراوية بالمقارنة مع المناطق الساحلية حيث أنها الأقل.

وقد قام إيرينا إعداد تقرير تقييم جاهزية مصادر الطاقة المتجددة و في تعاون وثيق مع حكومة سلطنة عمان ممثلة في الهيئة العامة للكهرباء والمياه (PAEW)، لدراسة إمكانات استخدام الطاقة المتجددة. وتسعى الحكومة إلى استخدام كمية كبيرة من الطاقة الشمسية لتلبية الاحتياجات من الكهرباء الداخلية للبلاد، ووضع بعض منه للتصدير. وقد بدأت شركة تنمية نفط عمان (PDO) في الحفاظ على موارد الغاز الطبيعي في سلطنة عمان في إنتاج النفط الثقيل من خلال تسخير الطاقة الشمسية لإنتاج البخارلتعزيز النفط المستخرج (EOR).

كشفت دراسة بتكليف من الهيئة العامة للكهرباء والمياه (PAEW) أن ضوئية (PV) أنظمة مثبتة على المباني السكنية في السلطنة يمكن أن توفر ما يقدر ب 1.4 جيجاوات من الكهرباء. وتشير التقديرات إلى أن محافظة مسقط وحدها يمكن أن تولد 450 ميجاوات، على غرار محطة لتوليد الطاقة متوسطة الحجم التي تعتمد على الغاز.

التطورات الرئيسية
السلطة للكهرباء اللائحة عمان (آي إي آر) – منظم قطاع الطاقة في سلطنة عمان تتخذ خطوات لتمهيد الطريق لأصحاب المنازل لتثبيت الألواح الشمسية على السطح مع أي الكهرباء فائض أرسلت مرة أخرى إلى الشبكة الوطنية. بعض الشركات البارزة، بما في ذلك شركة كهرباء مجان، واحة المعرفة مسقط (واحة المعرفة مسقط) وجامعة السلطان قابوس قد اعتمدت بالفعل خطط تجريبها لتوليد الطاقة الشمسية.

نظرا لانخفاض تكاليف الضوئية (PV) لوحات، وأصبح إنتاج الطاقة الشمسية خيارا جذابا لعملية تحلية المياه. ويجري حاليا اختبار عمليات التحلية الحرارية الشمسية باستخدام تجميع الطاقة الشمسية في مشاريع رائدة، ومن المتوقع أن تصبح متوفرة مع الحلول التجارية قريبا.

مرآه مشروع للطاقة الشمسية الحرارية  يسعى لتسخير الطاقة الشمس لانتاج بخار يستخدم في إنتاج النفط. ومن المرجح أن يتم نشرها للتنمية في محافظة المنطقة الداخلية التي تعد واحدة من أكبر مشاريع الطاقة الشمسية في الاستراتيجية الوطنية للطاقة في سلطنة عمان عام 2040.

وقد توجت عمان بالفعل في جذب المستثمرين من القطاع الخاص إلى السلطنة وإنتاج المياه من خلال تقديم اتفاقيات شراء الطاقة. وقد شرعت الحكومة في مهمة فتح سوق أقوى والمستدام و إعطاء شركات النفط فرصة لتعزيز موطئ قدم لها في البلاد لمواجهة خطر استنفاد موارد النفط.

و مع ذلك، هناك تحديات ناشئة عن عدم إشراك أصحاب المصلحة في سياسات تأطير وفي صنع القرار؛ وعدم وجود سياسات التنظيمية في قطاع الطاقة المتجددة و الذي يعيق وتيرة التنمية. هناك حاجة لتقييم الموارد المحددة من أجل تحديد إمكانيات السوق وينبغي أن تكون مجالاً من مجالات البحث الرئيسية.

الآفاق المستقبلية 

ومن المتوقع أن تصبح الطاقة الشمسية في سلطنة عمان أرخص تدريجيا في المستقبل القريب، ويمكن أن يكون أفضل عائد للاستثمارات. ويتحدد نجاحها بمجرد السياسات التنظيمية والحوافز الحكومة المالية والتمويل العام. التحديات التي تواجهها صناعة الطاقة الشمسية تدخل إلى السوق التي كانت أساسا تهيمن عليها صناعة النفط. وينبغي توفير الإعانات والحوافز من قبل الحكومة في شكل تغذية في التعريفات وذلك لطمأنة سعر سند للكهرباء بيعها إلى الشبكة الوطنية خلال دمج تقنيات الطاقة الشمسية في توليد الطاقة.

miraah-solar-project

هناك حاجة ماسة للدعم السياسي للطاقة المتجددة لتأخذ المنافسة في السوق الحرة. يجب أن تكون القوانين التي تحكم تنظيم توليد الطاقة أن توفر المزيد من المرونة لمصادر الطاقة المتجددة ويجب أن تكون وجهة حافزة لجذب أصحاب المصلحة. البيئة الإيجابية للاستثمار وحقوق الملكية قوية وأنظمة ضريبية منخفضة و مشاركة الشركات العالمية الرائدة المختصة في قطاع الطاقة كل هذه بالتأكيد تساعد في تعزيز تطبيقات الطاقة الشمسية. وتحتاج البلاد إلى وضع خطط استراتيجية واضحة للمستقبل في مجال تطوير الطاقة الشمسية.

مع موارد الطاقة الشمسية القوية والجامعات القائمة، عمان لديها فرصة مهنية ظاهرة وقدرة على الرصد باعتبارها مزود تكنولوجي دولي و قيامها بدور نشط في إقامة قاعدة المهارات المهنية متقدمة في مجال العلوم والهندسة وتوسيع مناطقها بالعمارة الحديثة مستخدمة الطاقة الشمسية وإدارة الطاقة.
ولكن يبقى السؤال: هل يمكن للطاقة الشمسية إحداث ثورة التغييرفي سلطنة عمان؟

 

ترجمة:

بدرية الكيومي- بكالوريوس علوم بيئية

Understanding Qatar’s Ecological Footprint

Qatar’s environmental impact remains worryingly high. The country’s per capita ecological footprint is now the second highest in the world, as another Gulf state, Kuwait, has overtaken it to become the worst offender of the 152 countries that were measured, according to the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) Living Planet Report 2014. The third country in the list is the UAE, with Saudi Arabia, the world’s largest oil producer, in 33rd position. By comparing the total footprint with the planet’s biocapacity – its capacity to generate an ongoing supply of renewable resources and to absorb waste -the report, based on 2010 data, concludes that the average human’s per capita footprint exceeds the planet’s capacity by 1.5. Most MENA countries’ ecological footprints also exceed their biocapacity in terms of their global rankings.

Qatar’s footprint, measured in global hectares (gha), is 8.5 – the second highest in the world, but down from 11.6 in the 2012 report. Only Kuwait fared worse, with a footprint of over 10gha. According to the WWF report, if all people on the planet had the footprint of the average resident of Qatar, we would need 4.8 planets. If we lived the lifestyle of a typical resident of the USA, we would need 3.9 planets. The figure for a typical resident of South Africa or Argentina would be 1.4 or 1.5 planets respectively. The world’s average footprint per person was 2.6gha, but the global average biocapacity per person was 1.7gha in 2010. This is based on the Earth’s total biocapacity of approximately 12 billion gha, which has to support all humans and the 10 million or more wild species.

Salman Zafar, founder of EcoMENA, a voluntary organisation that promotes sustainable development in the Arab world, attributes the Qatari situation on lack of environmental awareness among the local population, lavish lifestyles and a strong dependence on fossil fuels. “The huge influx of workers from across the world has put tremendous strain on already stressed natural resources. Migrant workers, who make up a huge chunk of the population, remain in the country for a limited period of time and are not motivated enough to conserve natural resources and protect the environment,” he adds. As for Kuwait, he says the growing ecological footprint may be attributed to its flourishing oil and gas industry, an increase in desalination plants, the presence of hundreds of landfills, excessive use of water, energy and goods, a huge expatriate population and the absence of concrete environmental conservation initiatives.

Of the 25 countries with the largest per capita ecological footprint, most were high-income nations. For virtually all of these, carbon was the biggest component, in Qatar’s case 70%. Carbon, specifically the burning of fossil fuels, has been the dominant component of humanity’s footprint for more than half a century, says the WWF report – in 1961, carbon had been 36% of the total footprint, but by 2010 it had increased to 53%. In 2013, the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere above Mauna Loa, Hawaii – the site of the oldest continuous carbon dioxide measurement station in the world – reached 400 parts per million (ppm) for the first time since measurements began in 1958. This is higher than they have been for more than a million years, and climate science shows major risks of unacceptable change at such concentrations. Furthermore, 2014 has globally been the hottest year since measurements started, and the World Meteorological Organisation predicts that this upward trend will continue.

The world’s total population today is already in excess of 7.2 billion, and growing at a faster rate than previously estimated. The dual effect of a growing human population and high per capita footprint will multiply the pressure humans place on ecological resources, the report states. As agriculture accounts for 92% of the global water footprint, humanity’s growing water needs, combined with climate change, are aggravating water scarcity. The authors also make it clear that in the long term water cannot be sustainably taken from lakes and groundwater reservoirs faster than they are recharged. Desalination of seawater also leads to brine (with a very high concentration of salt and leftover chemicals and metals), which is discharged into the sea where it poses a danger to marine life.  In terms of biodiversity, the report shows an overall decline of 52 percent between 1970 and 2010. Falling by 76 percent, population of freshwater species declined more rapidly than marine and terrestrial (both 39 percent) population.

With regards to Qatar’s biocapacity, its fishing grounds make up 92% of the total, while the country ranks 66th globally in terms of its biocapacity per capita. Like other Gulf states, it can operate with an ecological deficit by importing products, and thus using the biocapacity of other nations; and/or by using the global commons, for instance, by releasing carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuel burning into the atmosphere, says the report.

Although Qatar has initiated plans to reduce its footprint and live less unsustainably, the latest electricity demand figures from Qatar General Electricity and Water Company (Kahramaa) show a 12% rise in demand for power over the previous year. This is in line with the country’s population growth, meaning that there has been no reduction in the per capita consumption, which is still under the top 15 countries in the world. Its water consumption per capita is also one of the highest in the world.

Qatar’s heavy reliance on gas and oil, its subsidised water and electricity, and the huge amount of energy needed for water desalination and air-conditioning make it unlikely that the country’s per capita standing in terms of the ecological footprint will improve anytime soon, but given the country’s small size its total impact is still relatively small.

Salman Shaban from the metal recycling company Lucky Star Alloys, regards the report as only highlighting Qatar’s current rapid development. “It is not fair to come to any conclusions at this stage when the construction, transport system and population boom is taking place. Any place that will go through such a fast development will initially have its impact on the ecological systems.” He foresees a gradual carbon footprint reduction once the construction and development phase is completed.“ Having said that, it is still every resident and citizen moral responsibility to conserve energy and protect the environment,” he adds. “Recycling should be a standard part of every household culture.”

According to Salman Zafar, grass-root level environmental education, removal of subsidies on water and energy, sustainable waste management practices, effective laws, awareness programs and mandatory stakeholder participation are some of the measures that may improve the environmental scenario in Qatar.

Although it makes for some disturbing reading, the report makes it clear that many individuals, communities, businesses, cities and governments are making better choices to protect natural capital and reduce their footprint, with environmental, social and economic benefits. But given that these exhaustive reports are based on data that is four years old, any current changes for better and worse will only become clear in the near future.

Note:

  • WWF is one of the world’s largest independent conservation organizations; its mission is to stop the degradation of the planet’s natural environment and to build a future in which humans live in harmony with nature. The full report is available at this link.
  • An edited version of this article first appeared in The Edge, Qatar’s Business Magazine. 

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Green Building Rating Systems in MENA

Green buildings not only contribute towards a sustainable construction and environment but also bring lots of benefits and advantages to building owners and users. Lower development costs, lower operating costs, increased comforts, healthier indoor environment quality, and enhanced durability and less maintenance costs are hallmarks of a typical green building.

A wide range of green building rating and assessment systems are used around the world, including LEED and BREEAM. Sustainability is now a top priority in MENA region and countries like Qatar and UAE have come up with their own green building rating system to incorporate socio-economic, environmental and cultural aspects in modern architecture.

Global Sustainability Assessment System (Qatar)

The Global Sustainability Assessment System (GSAS), formerly known as the Qatar Sustainability Assessment System (QSAS), was developed in 2010 by Gulf Organization for Research and Development (GORD) in collaboration with T.C. Chan Center at the University of Pennsylvania. GSAS aims at creating a sustainable urban environment to reduce environmental impacts of buildings while satisfying local community needs. 

GSAS is billed as the world’s most comprehensive green building assessment system developed after rigorous analysis of 40 green building codes from all over the world. The most important feature of GSAS is that it takes into account the region’s social, economic, environmental and cultural aspects, which are different from other parts of the world. Several countries in the MENA region, such as Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Jordan and Sudan, have shown keen interest in the adoption of GSAS as unified green building code for the region.

Qatar has incorporated QSAS into Qatar Construction Standards 2010 and it is now mandatory for all private and public sector projects to get GSAS certification. GSAS combines 140 building sustainability assessment mechanisms and is divided into eight categories including urban connectivity, site, energy, water, materials, indoor environment, cultural and economic value and management and operations. Each category of the system will measure a different aspect of a project’s environmental impact. Each category is broken down into specific criteria that measure and define individual issues. A score is then awarded for each category on the basis of the degree of compliance.

Pearl Rating System (Abu Dhabi)

The Pearl Rating System (PRS) is the green building rating system for the emirate of Abu Dhabi designed to support sustainable development from design to construction to operational accountability of communities, buildings and villas. It provides guidance and requirements to rate potential performance of a project with respect to Estidama (or sustainability).

The Pearl Rating System is an initiative of the part of the government to improve the life of people living in Abu Dhabi, by focusing on cultural traditions and social values. The rating system is specifically tailored to the hot and arid climate of Abu Dhabi which is characterized by high energy requirements for air-conditioning, high evaporation rates, infrequent rainfall and potable water scarcity.

The Pearl Rating System has various levels of certification. ranging from one to five pearls. A minimum certification of one pearl is required for all new development projects within Abu Dhabi. The Pearl Rating System is organized into seven categories where there are both mandatory and optional credits. To achieve a 1 Pearl rating, all the mandatory credit requirements must be met. 

ARZ Building Rating System (Lebanon)

The relatively unknown ARZ Building Rating System is the first Lebanese green building initiative of international standard with its certification process being administered by the Lebanon Green Building Council (LGBC).  It has been established to support the growth and adoption of sustainable building practices in Lebanon, with a specific focus on the environmental assessment and rating system for commercial buildings.

The ARZ Green Building Rating System was developed by Lebanese expertise of LGBC in partnership with the International Finance Corp. Its aim is to maximize the operational efficiency and minimize environmental impacts. The ARZ rating system is evidence-based approach to assessing how green a building is. The system includes a list of technologies, techniques, procedures and energy consumption levels that LGBC expects to see in green buildings.

An assessor accredited by LGBC will take an inventory of the energy and water consumption, technologies, techniques and procedures that are used in the building and then LGBC will score the building according to how well the inventory matches the list of technologies, techniques and procedures that make up the ARZ rating system requirements. 

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