25 nov. 2012

YMCA in Wonderland

Qatar is a land of extremes. With a population that consists of about 80% foreign workforce and one of the world’s highest GDP per capita, Qatar is a country on the move. The capital of Qatar, Doha, the current host of the COP18 (conference of the parties) gives the impression that you are in an artificial world. Well after all, you pretty much are. The grass is not grass, but turf and the city is built in a desert with hardly any natural resources besides the economy generating black gold. Skyscrapers shape the 800 000 population city’s skyline contrasting the desert landscape surrounding them and despite the supposedly “cold” season, spending time under the merciless sun in the heat outside is far from simply pleasant. Consequently all buildings and vehicles are equipped with air-conditioning to make life bearable. Hosting the FIFA World Cup in 2022, including constructing all new air-conditioned arenas will most likely not improve their enormous energy consumption.

Considering this, it is easy to question the location of a UN conference on climate change in what is one of the worst per capita emitters of greenhouse gases in the world. However though the focus on Qatar and the COP18 have the potential to make it subject to change and a new emphasize on environmental aspects will hopefully lead to a continued work towards a more sustainable future, also realizing the benefits of avoiding a future plummet in the economy when peak oil is long gone.

Qatar is a country of extremes and it will be very interesting to see their undertaking as the host country of COP18. What will be the message from the COP18 in Doha to the world? Hopefully one that brings back faith in the negotiations and creates momentum in the process for the future leaving a Qatar longing for renewable energy and long term sustainable development. 

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