To meet the objectives of the Paris Agreement in 2030 – and to achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2050 – nations must continue to educate people while investing in innovation and technologies to drive solutions, experts have said at the first Qatar Climate Change Conference, hosted by Qatar Foundation (QF).
The one-day event, sponsored by ExxonMobil Qatar and held in partnership with the Abdullah Bin Hamad Al-Attiyah International Foundation for Energy and Sustainable Development, saw industry leaders and stakeholders from all over the world discuss how to pursue economic development alongside achieving sustainability goals.
With the global sustainability summit COP26 taking place in November, HE Abdullah bin Hamad al-Attiyah, chairman, the Abdullah Bin Hamad Al-Attiyah International Foundation for Energy and Sustainable Development – who delivered a keynote speech – highlighted the timeliness of the conference. “This event is happening at a time when nations and major stakeholders are preparing for the upcoming United Nations climate change conference COP26 in Glasgow,” he said.
“Expectations are very high. Global leaders are expected to reaffirm their net zero ambitions and provide an updated road map on how they intend to reach this target.”
HE Dr Abdullah bin Abdulaziz bin Turki al-Subaie, Minister of Municipality and Environment and Acting Minister of State for Cabinet Affairs, also delivered a keynote speech, emphasising how climate change has become the most pressing challenge of today, and how Qatar is taking real, tangible action to address it.
“Education is absolutely key to understanding the specifics of climate change,” he added. “Qatar will continue to invest in education, arming people with the knowledge and skills needed to develop a sustainable future.”
HE Akbar al-Baker, Qatar Airways Group chief executive and secretary-general of Qatar Tourism, was among the speakers at the conference, in a panel titled Qatar National Climate Action and Policy. He explained how Qatar Airways has invested heavily in reducing its carbon footprint, saying: “We balance our business operations with a responsibility to protect the environment.”
But collaboration is key, he explained. “We need to educate the masses. We need to use media, and social media, we need programmes to educate our people, so that they can also play an important part in carbon offsetting and at the same time changing behaviours so that we conserve our planet, and produce less waste that cannot be recycled.”
Omran al-Kuwari, CEO of Qatar Foundation International, highlighted how QF has weaved sustainability into every aspect of its operations, from educating children in its Pre-University Education eco-system, to RDI investment.
“Interestingly, according to experts, the technologies needed to get 2030 targets already exist,” al-Kuwari said. “But to get to 2050, we need new technologies. I think that’s where there is a huge opportunity for economic development, for entrepreneurs, for new companies to be developed, for companies to grow. That’s where Qatar can play a huge role – to invest now and be a part of the solution in 2050.”
And this sentiment of how technology will play a major role in the years to come was echoed by Borge Brende, president, World Economic Forum, who attended virtually, and highlighted how there will be important breakthroughs in the years to come.
Dominic Genetti, ExxonMobil Qatar’s president and general manager, also shared his insights from ExxonMobil on a lower carbon future, highlighting the company’s long-term relationship and close collaboration with Qatar.
“We’re proud that we can trace our history with Qatar back more than half a century. Over the years, we have developed a close partnership and friendship based on co-operation, shared success, trust and mutual respect,” said Genetti.
“We’re committed to helping further Qatar’s Sustainability Strategy, based on the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, and to support its pursuit of its low carbon goals as defined in the Qatar National Vision 2030 and the Paris Accord.”
The second session, titled Climate Change Adaptation & Mitigation in Qatar, discussed monitoring, reducing and offsetting greenhouse gas emissions to mitigate climate change, while the third session, Carbon Market and Pricing, addressed how a market-driven instrument can effectively support future interventions on climate change.
Saud Abdulla al-Attiyah, deputy undersecretary for Economic Affairs of Ministry of Finance in Qatar and board member of Qatar Fund for Development, said: “We, in Qatar, are supporting the global effort to cut carbon emissions. As part of the climate change strategy, we are studying the carbon market and are aware that collective action is critical for successful implementation.
“The introduction of carbon pricing is no longer a choice and therefore our efforts have increased, and we hope to come up with a credible plan soon.”