As the Qatar world cup progresses to its climax, a new report warning that its huge expansion of gas extraction could push the planet into catastrophic global heating. Should Qatar exploit all of its oil and gas reserves it will eventually add an enormous 50bn metric tons of carbon dioxide to the atmosphere once burned, which is more than the entire annual emissions of the whole world.
Qatar’s vast oil and gas resources have greatly enriched the small Middle Eastern country, which this year became the world’s largest exporter of liquified natural gas (or LNG), superseding the US and Australia. It is now looking to further cement its position by ramping up production from a vast offshore gas deposit called the north field, which will account for 70% of the emissions growth according to the new report by BankTrack, an NGO that used data from BP to ascertain the extent of Qatar’s “carbon bomb” projects.
Henrieke Butijn, climate campaigner and researcher at BankTrack. “What’s happening in Qatar is awful in terms of these projects and also worker conditions, but there is a level of hypocrisy here because Qatar isn’t acting alone."
QatarEnergy has signed recent partnership deals with western oil giants including Shell, Total, ConocoPhilips, Exxon and Eni in order to boost output of the north field by 60% over the next five years. Separate deals have been struck in the past month with Germany and China to provide the countries with gas amid concerns over supplies disrupted by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
No new fossil fuel infrastructure can be built if the world is to avoid breaching the 1.5C limit, the International Energy Agency has warned, but despite this there has been plenty of financial support for Qatar’s gas expansion. JPMorgan Chase, Citi, HSBC, Deutsche Bank, Goldman Sachs, MUFG, Credit Suisse and Bank of America have all backed planned projects in the north field, providing nearly $12bn in bond underwriting services to QatarEnergy.
The emissions from Qatar’s oil and gas resources will cause $20tn in damages and 11m deaths around the world, BankTrack said. Qatar’s 50bn tons of emissions will occur if it allows all of its deposits to be burned. While this may not happen if other countries move decisively away from fossil fuels as an energy source, there is currently no commitment from Qatar that it won’t completely exhaust its reserves. In previous years there have been claims Qatar’s gas reserves could last more than 130 years.
“Fossil fuels are weapons of mass destruction, carbon bombs ticking against the time we have left to avert the very worst of the climate crisis,” said Harjeet Singh, head of global political strategy at Climate Action Network International.