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Many countries have declared their commitment to taking action toward mitigating the effects of climate change and increasing the sustainability of their economies (Sachs 445). Moreover, they entered into international agreements and undertook to take measures on national levels to address climate change issues and report progress to each other. Qatar is one of those countries, and it currently demonstrates certain efforts in climate policy-making. Three issues need to be addressed to discuss how this is made: mitigation of climate change effects, adaptation to new climate conditions, and economic issues influencing these two processes.
One of the main components of a country’s climate policy-making is recognizing the adverse effects of climate change and the effort aimed at mitigating them. In Qatar, this recognition exists on the highest level, as the government has defined four main areas for the development of the country and listed environmental issues among them: the so-called fourth pillar of the Qatar National Vision 2030 is environmental development, which includes the government’s determination to “strike a balance between development needs and environmental protection [and to support] international efforts to mitigate the effects of climate change” (“Intended Nationally Determined Contributions Report” 1). Qatar officially declared its dedication to complying with the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.
Mitigation may have various forms and occur on institutional, regulatory, legislative, infrastructural, or behavioral levels. In Qatar’s case, it is acknowledged that the country is in a difficult position in terms of the environment. First of all, there is food insecurity and a lack of fresh water. On the other hand, the presently decreasing oil price and the current achievements in the area of clean energy allow the country to improve policy-making on energy. Some researchers argue that the country is demonstrating the intention to use this opportunity, as it displays the recognition of the “importance of renewable energy and sustainability and [fights] for reducing its ecological footprint” (Shafi). An example is employing carbon use taxes as an instrument of emissions reduction.
Among the energy use targets and standards (EUTS) in GCC countries, Qatar only incorporated one of them into its national regulatory system: the mandatory efficiency codes for new builds (Meltzer et al.). Also, it can be noted that the country has been making its indirect contribution to the international climate change mitigation initiatives by exporting liquefied natural gas (LNG) in the form of cleaner energy (“Intended Nationally Determined Contributions Report”). Qatar’s declared goal is to achieve 20-percent renewable energy deployment by 2030 (Meltzer et al.), which is planned to be accomplished mainly through participating in the World Bank greenhouse gas reduction program, establishing institutions to address climate change issues, developing public transport infrastructure, and adopting new environmental policies regarding renewable energy. It will involve imposing obligations on industries that have a high impact on the environment and developing more sustainable technologies, i.e., those consuming fewer recourses and producing less waste.
According to an official statement, Qatar recognizes four areas of adaptation actions with mitigation co-benefits: water management, infrastructure and transport, waste management, and awareness (“Intended Nationally Determined Contributions Report”). Concerning water management, the government has declared its intention to adopt a comprehensive water management plan to create an integrated system of quality requirements, monitoring, and regulatory incentives aimed at water conservation. Also, adaptation includes attracting investment in studying and developing new technologies for water desalination, which is one of Qatar’s most daunting issues. There is a growing recognition of the need to apply renewable energy to power desalination plants.
Second, the current government encourages citizens to use public transport and opt for that instead of private vehicles. This effort falls into the category of infrastructure and transport adaptation actions. There are public authorities in Qatar that regulate vehicles’ emissions by developing emission standards in accordance with international ones. Third, waste management issues are addressed both from the perspective of waste prevention (e.g., through reducing, reusing, and recycling produced waste) and converting the waste that could not be prevented into energy. Finally, Qatar acknowledges that adapting to changing climate conditions will require changes in behaviors and attitudes. That is why awareness campaigns are conducted to educate citizens on using more efficient energy and the importance of current environmental issues.
The main economic driving force for climate policy-making, which does not allow continuing “business as usual,” is the understanding of possible consequences of unsustainable development (Sachs 3). Economies are doomed to collapse if they use resources faster than those that emerge under natural conditions if they produce more waste than can be put back into the system. Also, there is the expectation that climate change, such as the results of the greenhouse gas concentration, will negatively affect the global economy unless mitigated. It is more and more widely acknowledged that economies the way they are now, i.e., largely depending on fossil fuels, will not survive and undermine their societies when the resources are exhausted. It explains the growing interest in renewable and clean energy, which is promising in further global development.
For Qatar, these economic driving forces are similar, but the government also regards climate-related economic challenges as economic diversification (“Intended Nationally Determined Contributions Report”). Particular areas related to diversification are energy efficiency, clean energy and renewables, research and development, education, and tourism. Diversification initiatives are not only seen as additional costs but also as potential sources of financing the systematic and structural reconstruction of the economy in the long run. It means that climate policies pursue not only mitigating negative effects and adapting to new conditions but also changing the economy toward increased sustainability to ensure that current economic processes do not undermine further development.
Qatar’s climate change mitigation measures are expressed in legislation and taxation regulations encouraging large players of the domestic economy to reduce the use of non-renewable resources and the number of emissions. The country also demonstrates attempts to adapt to the changing climate conditions and the context of global climate change by introducing institutional modifications and raising awareness. From the economic perspective, it is recognized that not only mitigation and adaptation should be the focus of the government’s activities toward addressing environmental issues but also the idea of sustainable development. Such development can be challenging, as it requires many difficult and often expensive changes. Still, it is justified by the fact that it does not lead to eventual collapse, unlike economic development based on fossil fuels. Climate policy-making plays a crucial role in addressing environmental issues because it demonstrates how governments compose complicated plans and act extensively on various levels to address one of the most important global issues of the 21st century—climate change.
“Intended Nationally Determined Contributions Report.” UNFCCC, Web.
Meltzer, Joshua, et al. “Low-Carbon Energy Transitions in Qatar and the Gulf Cooperation Council Region.” Brookings, Web.
Sachs, Jeffrey D. The Age of Sustainable Development. Columbia University Press, 2015.
Shafi, Neeshad. “Qatar’s Fight Against Climate Change.” EcoMENA, Web.