Interview: Ahmed bin Amer Al Humaidi
Since the 18th Conference of the Parties (COP) in Doha, how do you gauge the ministry's success in reducing carbon emissions and gas flaring?
AHMED BIN AMER AL HUMAIDI: Qatar organised the COP 18 as part of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change in 2012 and took the opportunity to reaffirm our voluntary efforts in reducing our greenhouse gas emissions. These are reflected in two tracks: the first includes the reduction of emissions from stationary and mobile machinery and vehicles, and the second includes the accurate and continuous monitoring of emissions from industrial cities. The Ministry of Environment put forward the use of modern, best-available technological solutions in oil and gas production to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, such as reducing emissions from flaring and venting, increasing the use of alternative energy, introducing behavioural changes and improving energy efficiency. Preliminary results show the success of these solutions through the reduction in both the burning of gas and the intensity of greenhouse gas. In line with efforts to implement Qatar National Vision 2030, the ministry established a dedicated department for climate change at the beginning of 2014.
What policies have been developed to reduce and dispose of industrial and hazardous waste?
AL HUMAIDI: Since its establishment, the ministry has taken the initiative and enacted legislation governing the circulation and disposal of hazardous materials and wastes of all kinds. At the national level, Law No. 30 of 2002 covers the protection of the environment, as do the executive regulations issued there under in 2005. Additionally, Law No. 31 of 2002 covers the control of radiation and chemicals, with rules covering health care waste management and natural radioactive materials used in the manufacturing of oil and gas.
At the international level, Qatar’s accession to relevant global conventions on chemicals and waste, such as the Basel Convention on the control of hazardous wastes, their disposal and transfer across borders, has provided the framework for international legislative control in dealing with waste material. The ministry has established a number of departments on a procedural and executive level to manage the implementation and activation of policies related to hazardous waste.
The Department of Environmental Impact Assessment is developing preconditions in the permit application process to minimise the creation of hazardous waste in any new industrial projects before construction permits are issued. The Department for the Prevention of Radiation and Chemicals controls the issuance of permits and approvals for the transfer, storage, recycling, reuse and disposal of hazardous waste. Finally, the Department of Industrial Inspection is responsible for periodically inspecting waste generators to ensure that activities comply with local environmental laws.
The ministry has also sought to encourage the establishment of specialised facilities for the treatment of hazardous waste, which has resulted in the construction of Mesaieed City for this purpose. The ministry has encouraged the private sector to invest in recycling of hazardous waste in coordination with the Ministry of Energy and Industry and the Industrial Development Bank through the allocation of land in Mesaieed.
How is the government supporting the use of cleaner fuels in Qatar’s transport network?
AL HUMAIDI: In 2012 Qatar launched a petrol station at a cost of $3.3m that provides compressed natural gas (CNG). It was designed and built as a pilot project to form part of a feasibility study to assess the requirements of the use of CNG as an alternative fuel in Qatar’s transport sector. Several public buses were brought in for use in this trial, which is expected to be followed by the allocation of additional buses and taxis. The project also launched electric-powered buses, with a pilot phase in progress. All of these projects fall within the framework of seeking permanent and environmentally friendly solutions as the state works to find innovative ways to use cleaner fuel in this important sector.
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