Doha, Qatar – photo by Larry Johnson (source: Flickr Creative Commons)

‘Qatar Airways announced yesterday it plans to develop new sources of biofuels in partnership with aerospace and energy firms.’

–The National (Qatar)

The Arab emirate of Qatar has the highest per-capita level of greenhouse gas emissions in the world. It sometimes shares this dubious honor with Australia, another big exporter of natural gas. But despite Qatar’s massive energy and water consumption, enormous burning of fossil fuels and resultant king-size carbon footprint, the emirate’s flag carrier airline, Qatar Airways, is embracing biofuel technology. Since Qatar’s per-capita emissions are so high and largely uncommented upon, the Guardian‘s Fred Pearce considers this greenwashing, plain and simple:

‘Those emissions have also risen almost fourfold since 1990. But, thanks to the vagaries of the Kyoto Protocol, the country is not penalised for this. Qatar is by some measures the second richest country in the world, but for the purposes of climate law, it is classified as a developing nation. And so it has no emissions targets.’

-Fred Pearce, Guardian

‘Fred Pearce’s Greenwash’ is an ongoing feature in the Guardian that looks into and ‘exposes’ exaggerated claims by big business, politicians or other interests who claim to be more environmentally friendly than they actually are. Greenwashing is the disingenuous practice of falsely presenting a product, practice or policy as beneficial to the environment. Sometimes a company – or country – may present a legitimately ‘green’ feature to the public, with the aim of giving themselves an ecological image, while on the whole maintaining bad environmental practices. This seems be the case with Qatar: it’s encouraging that they’re looking towards the use of biofuels in their aviation industry, but against the reality of their emissions, energy and water consumption, it amounts to so much green fluff.

Read Fred Pierce’s entire piece, entitled ‘Qatar to use biofuels? What about the country’s energy consumption?’ in the Guardian.

Additional resources:

The National – Qatar Airways heralds biofuel programme

Financial Times – Australia vs Qatar on LNG and… CO2 emissions

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