Qatar has one of the least impressive carbon footprints in the world. That is, perhaps, not surprising in a land where temperatures are always high and huge amounts of cheap energy is used for air-conditioning units to keep people cool and to run desalination plants to provide fresh water.
It is not unusual to see people stationary cars with the engine left running. I have done this if I am waiting for someone. It just gets too hot after 30 seconds. Petrol is only 18p per litre, so expense is not an issue.
Doha is also host to regular climate change conferences, so awareness of green issues has a high profile. When the last conference was about to start, various recycling bins appeared. However there are only a few places where materials can be recycled, so the bins were very much there to raise awareness and get people used to the concept.
Coming from the UK where recycling has been a way of life for many years, it was at first disconcerting to dispose of recyclables in the standard refuse. Each bottle or magazine that went down the garbage chute was a slightly difficult experience… but you get used to it regardless.
This evening there was a knock at the door. Three children with two adults asked if they could speak to me about recycling. On their iPads they showed me photographs of landfill sites full of plastic and various, very dead sea birds poisoned by stomachs full of plastics.
They also told me that there summer holiday project was to help arrange for recycling bins in our building, and the bins had now arrived… so from now on we can separate plastics and metals, and in a few weeks also paper. All this material will be taken away to be turned into other things at the new recycling businesses that are just getting going in the city.
The companies involved are Shahab, Doha Plastic tel 5587 9776 or 4411 4001 and Aamir Hussain, Global Metals tel 3363 6766 or 4450 1203