The best-known example of carbon offsetting is through support for forestry projects (here, on private land near Mount Rainier National Park, in the United States).

The International Football Federation (FIFA) assures us: the World Cup in Qatar will be the first in history whose ecological balance will be “carbon neutral”. Understand, the competition will not release one gram of carbon dioxide (COtwo) in the environment, despite the air conditioning of the stadiums, the construction of seven new venues, the construction of transport infrastructures or even the comings and goings by plane of the fans from the four corners of the planet. How could such a tour de force be possible? FIFA has a start that is not secret; it’s called carbon offsetting.

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System denounced because it often conceals “greenwashing” practices, carbon offsetting is a mechanism that allows States or companies to finance projects to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions abroad through the exchange of carbon credits, that is, rights to pollute. The best known example, and also the most controversial, is that of the sequestration of COtwo supporting forestry projects.

FIFA and the host country commit to offset each World Cup-related GHG emission by investing, through the purchase of carbon credits, in projects that can reduce emissions by the same amount, to achieve an equal bottom line steel. According to FIFA estimates, the tournament is expected to generate 3.6 million tons of CO2 equivalenttwowhich is still more than the greenhouse gases produced by a country like Iceland in 2021. It is also much more than the last two editions, in Russia in 2018 and in Brazil in 2014, whose carbon footprint had been assessed, again by the federation, to approximately 2 million tons of COtwo.

Qatar sets its own standards

To achieve promised neutrality, organizers will need to purchase 3.6 million carbon credits. The step is very high. To make the task easier, the World Cup organizing committee has created its own credit-issuing body: the Global Carbon Council (“global carbon council”, GCC). The Qatari authorities have assigned it the goal of offsetting half of the carbon footprint of the tournament, that is, generating 1.8 million credits. FIFA will take care of the rest.

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Presented as ” Independent “the GCC is supposed to promote a “path to a low carbon future” in Qatar, the world’s largest GHG emitter per capita, and, more broadly, in the Middle East and North Africa. Above all, it allows the Qatari authorities, and their partners in the Persian Gulf, to define their own standards by freeing themselves from certification bodies recognized in international carbon markets, such as the Gold Standard (initially created by the World Wide Fund for Nature ) or the Clean Development Mechanism, led by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. These organizations are responsible for ensuring that the emission reductions associated with projects financed by carbon credits are real, measurable, verifiable and additional.

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