Qatar’s Green Transport for the World Cup 2022 and the Future
In recent news, Qatar announced that over 1,100 electric buses would be available to transport fans and visitors around the FIFA World Cup host nation during the 2022 tournament. The scheme is part of Qatar's drive to deliver a carbon-neutral World Cup event, a shared vision between the host nation and FIFA, but also part of Qatar's wider plans for the country's future. Qatar is committed not only to fulfilling its promise of carbon neutrality at the 2022 competition through sustainable building standards, renewable energy and low-emission solutions, and sustainable waste and water management practices. But, the nation is also devoted to ensuring that it leaves a legacy of environmental standards, expertise and technologies that benefit the country and region for many generations to come. One area set to deliver formidable environmental savings for the 2022 event, and the country in the ensuing years, is transportation. And, it's not just electric buses that will drive carbon emissions down!
Since Qatar first entered its bid to host the 2022 World Cup, the nations organising bodies have been vocal in their goal of delivering the world's first fully carbon-neutral FIFA tournament. One way in which it has sought to ensure carbon neutrality is through the transport sector.
In some ways, Qatar was lucky enough to have a head start on its carbon-neutral campaign due to the compact nature of the country, which was very much a selling point during the country's bid for the tournament hosting rights. Qatar's size means that fans arriving in 2022 will do so with only one return plane journey, significantly reducing overall carbon emissions compared to previous tournaments. Once in the country, travel to and from stadiums and associated venues during the World Cup will also be comparatively minimal compared to past host nations. As such, the carbon footprint associated with travel during the World Cup will be naturally smaller. However, Qatar committed to much, much more.
Since winning the World Cup bid, a Metro and light rail system has been constructed, country-wide upgrades have been undertaken along major road systems, and public transport services have been expanded and significantly improved.
Metro and Light Rail
The new Metro and light rail system extend across Doha and beyond in every direction - to Lusail in the north, Al Wakra in the south and Al Riffa in the west. Metro station stops are located at or are within a short distance of each World Cup stadium and the majority of other World Cup venues. The Metro also provides access to and from the country's International Airport.
Supporting the Metro system are the light rail systems (and bus services) serving Lusail City and Education City. Both light rail systems provide easy access from each city's Metro station to their new World Cup stadium - Lusail Iconic Stadium and Education City Stadium.
The Metro and the light rail systems (and bus services) are designed to be the main transport methods during the World Cup. From landing at Doha's Hamad International Airport, fans can easily, cheaply and quickly access hotels, stadiums, World Cup venues and tourist attractions.
The Doha Metro is a fully automated electric train system that utilises regenerative braking systems (also known as kinetic energy recovery systems), LED lighting and optimised ventilation systems to increase energy efficiency. Alongside the electrically operated light rail system, the Metro offers Qatar's citizens and World Cup fans a sustainable, energy-efficient, low carbon transportation network, compared to traditional methods of city travel, and supports Qatar's sustainability goals for 2022 and the future. And, all the Metro stations are designed and operated under green building certification – ensuring their green credentials.
Supporting the Doha Metro are several of Qatar's other public transport systems, which provide links between the Metro stations and the rest of the country. Many public services have switched to or are gearing up to run on clean fuels, providing another tick towards Qatar's carbon-neutral goal.
The World Cup host nation has invested in a fleet of new buses to augment the country's public transport infrastructure. Currently, around 20% of the buses are electric, a number set to grow towards the 2022 tournament. The rest of the fleet runs on diesel. However, it conforms to the 2009 Euro 5 emissions standard that requires vehicles to be fitted with particulate filters that capture 99% of all particles emitted during vehicle operation. Thus, Qatar's fleet emits much less pollution than regular vehicles.
Qatar is also planning to introduce a rail-less, electric-bus rapid transit (eBRT) system (think hybrid bus/tram system). The eBRT system uses high passenger capacity, energy-efficient buses driven by electric propulsion, and designed for quick recharging. The new buses would reduce the emission of a host of pollutants, save energy (thanks to regenerative braking) and cost less than traditional style buses and tram systems to run.
It is estimated that Qatar will build around 700 charging stations to support the electric bus fleet and eBRT system. In addition, the bus depot in Qatar's newest city, Lusail, will provide electricity for all charging stations via solar panels.
After Qatar 2022, the new fleets will replace the old, helping Qatar to maintain their environmental commitment long after the tournament is over.
The Qatari electric vehicle strategy will also see Mowasalat (the country's leading public transport service provider) working to electrify all taxis in the coming years. Already, the company operates numerous electric taxis serving Hamad International Airport.
The transport company has also tapped into natural gas resources, launching the region's first CNG-fuelled buses.
Qatar has also introduced a large fleet of electric scooters for short-term hire. These micro-mobility travel options offer an alternative to cars and taxis over short distances, i.e. making connections between final destinations from Metro Stations. They are cheap, convenient, easily accessible and environmentally friendly. And, of course, the scooters provide a fun option for sightseeing around the city or as a leisure activity.
The e-scooters are dockless, which means they don't have a fixed station and can be picked up and parked in various locations in the city, adding to their convenience.
Qatar has also spent a great deal of time in the last few years constructing cycle paths throughout the city and beyond. Cycle tracks have been built around parks, along main thoroughfares in Doha, around the new World Cup Stadiums, along promenades, to and from major points of interest, and between towns and municipalities. Many of the cycle tracks are uninterrupted, providing a safe travel route. The new pathways are designed to encourage people out of their cars and other modes of transport and on to bikes for a cheaper, healthier, more environmentally friendly travel option.
Electric car use is also being encouraged and promoted by the Qatari authorities. Kahramaa, Qatar's water and electricity regulator, intends to install up to 500 charging points for electric cars by 2022. Though the city already has several charging stations in public parking and shopping centre parking facilities and around government buildings, further charging points will be located in residential areas and around stadiums, leisure facilities and parks.
Qatar has in recent years undertaken a major overhaul of its road network throughout Doha and across the country. The works are designed to free up inner-city roads - decreasing traffic jams and travel times, increase accessibility nationwide, and ultimately reduce air pollution. The new road network is aligned with the World Cup infrastructure making access by road easily achievable.
In terms of delivering its promise of a carbon-neutral World Cup in 2022, Qatar's green initiatives show that it is well on target. And, while the benefits of such initiatives during the World Cup may only be witnessed as multiple transport options providing fast, efficient and modern travel, their legacy will extend far beyond the tournament. Locally, reduced traffic on the roads and the use of more environmentally friendly transport modes will see a reduction in congestion, travel times, energy consumption and costs, and pollution and its adverse health effects. On a broader scale, reductions in carbon emissions will reduce the direct and indirect impacts on local, regional and worldwide communities for generations to come.
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