It was later on followed by an equally intriguing follow-up question: "In the age of global warming, which countries are working the hardest to preserve the environment?"
Surprisingly, the list didn't include any Middle Eastern and North African nation, except for one—Qatar. Although we weren't part of the top half, Qatar is still placed in a considerably reasonable 32nd spot beating Schengen states such as Slovenia (#34) and Czech Republic (#33).
The rankings were done by Yale and Columbia Universities on a 2018 Environmental Performance Index, which ranks each country by performance on high-priority environmental issues. Each nation is given an overall score out of 100, factoring in 24 indicators, including environmental health, air quality and water quality.
The US—which announced its exit from the Paris Accord—is far from the number one spot. Instead, the top places are dominated by European Union nations, all of whom remain part of the climate deal—which Qatar signed on April 22, 2016.
The Paris Accord's key goal is to hold global warming to "well below" two degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) over pre-Industrial Revolution levels, and "pursuing efforts" to keep it to 1.5 C—which the participating nations have agreed on.
The lower goal for the climate pact—which will come into effect in 2020—was a demand of poor countries and island states at high risk of climate change effects such as sea-level rise.
Newsweek notes that the Top 50 Countries were chosen in adherence to the following criteria namely: Strong, beautiful, and clean environment.
According to a 2016 report by the World Health Organization (WHO), air pollution in Qatar vastly exceeds safe limits and is damaging the health of the population. Doha was even once named the world's 12th most polluted city in year 2014.
The decline in air quality around Qatar can be attributed to a number of factors, with the increase in population being one of the primary ones. This sudden surge in headcount has also caused congestion due to excessive construction of residential areas.
Also, as an energy producing nation, it’s no surprise that Qatar has one of the largest carbon footprints in the world—another defining factor to the then-poor air quality in the capital.
However, air pollution is not the only type of pollution that is plaguing Qatar. Sound pollution in some parts of Doha as well as excessive light displays in many areas, particularly West Bay, is causing disruptions to the country’s natural environment.
These facts ranked Qatar the fourth worst MENA country in terms of air pollution as per WHO during that year. The most toxic country was neighboring Saudi Arabia, followed by Kuwait and Bahrain. The UAE and Oman came just after Qatar on the index.
One of the four pillars of Qatar National Vision 2030, the state's long-term development plan, is environmental sustainability. Under this goal, economic growth and social development must occur in such a way as to ensure environmental protection, securing the country’s achievements for future generations, as well as boosting the health and standard of living of existing residents. This has implications across the economy, including for the construction sector as Qatar has been tightening its environmental standards in recent years.
Qatar Airways' air campaign for example. There has been a 12.45% increase in the number of air and passenger traffic moving through Doha International Airport since 2013, which is a contributing factor to the pollution levels. The new Hamad International Airport, which can accommodate a larger number of flights and passengers, is also much larger in size and might increased air traffic in the future.
As a member of One World, Qatar Airways works with partner airlines to achieve even more efficient air travel. This includes supporting Air Traffic Control authorities to move towards more efficient airspace management and collaborating to enable passengers to use e-tickets throughout their global journey to reduce the printing of paper tickets.
The above-mentioned factors paved way to make Qatar a more ideal sanctuary for citizens and residents alike.
It has been reported that at least 10% of the transport on the country's roads will be environment-friendly electric vehicles (green cars) by 2030 as part of an ambitious mission initiated between the Ministry of Energy and Industry and Ministry of Transport and Communications (MoTC).
"The initiative is expected to help adopting a clean energy in transportation that would contribute to develop a healthy environment, enhance environmental indicators and reduce harmful carbon emissions by 2022 in accordance with the five-year National Sustainable Development Strategy 2017-2022," said an official.
The Top 5 countries all came from the European continent with Switzerland snagging the title of being the 'World's Most E-friendly Nation.' With an Environment Health score of 93.57, Air Quality score of 91.06, Water Quality of 99.99, and Air Pollution score of 98.7, the mountainous Central European country comes out victorious with an average score of 87.42.
Qatar on the other hand has an average score of 67.8 out of 100 with an Environmental Health score of 74.18, 76.29 in terms of Air Quality, Water Quality of 72.9 and Air Pollution scored at 86.88.
Neighboring countries such as France (#2), Denmark (#3), Malta (#4), and Sweden (#5) make up the rest of the Top 5.
To know the chances of Qatar getting hit by natural disasters, click here.
Do you agree that Qatar's air quality has improved over the years? And what are your thoughts on Qatar scoring unexpectedly high in Newsweek's 'Top 50 Most E-friendly Countries in the World' list? Drop us a line in the comments section below and also, don't forget to like and share this article—it keeps us going!
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