Climate change poses a significant risk to Gulf countries including Qatar. The QNDF recognizes the importance of addressing this risk through a comprehensive strategy. QNMP’s Climate Change Strategy proposes measures to reduce the impact of land use development on exacerbating climate change, as well as measures to adapt development to the impacts resulting from anticipated climate change.
The Strategy started by analyzing available data relevant to climate change and examining gaps in existing policies and plans. The strategy identified three main anticipated threats from climate change: sea level rise and flooding, increasing temperatures, and harm to biodiversity.
Sea Level Rise/flooding
The Strategy recommended a number of initiatives to protect development from the impact of sea level rise and flooding including:
1. Designating a Vulnerable Coastal Zone to communicate risk and regulate development;
2. Updating planning, policy and regulatory framework documents to address flood risk;
3. Creating a framework to evaluate protection versus retreat options;
4. Creating a framework for the strategic retreat from vulnerable land;
5. Implementing emergency management measures.
Increasing temperatures will increase the seasonally uncomfortable and potentially dangerous heat affecting people during outdoor activity. The heat island effect, referring to the further increased temperatures in urban areas due to greater heat absorbed and re-emitted by buildings, pavement and other infrastructure will further exacerbate the higher temperatures from climate change. The Strategy recommends:
1. Increasing and improving green space in areas vulnerable to the heat island effect;
Harm to biodiversity
2. Ameliorate the urban heat island effect by integrating the Global Sustainability Assessment System (GSAS) into the building permit application process;
3. Introducing shading requirements;
4. Promoting urban canyons and street orientation that maximize the cooling effects through shading and funneling cooling breezes;
5. Developing a heat wave emergency response plan.
Qatar has a rich biodiversity that serves crucial environmental functions including food provision, soil formation, nutrient cycling and carbon sequestration. Due to the country’s extreme climate, the ecosystems supporting this biodiversity are fragile and highly sensitive to disruption such as that caused by climate change. To protect this biodiversity, the Strategy recommends:
1. Introducing buffer zones from development to protect sensitive ecosystems;
2. Introduce environmental offsets to replace environmental resources lost to development.
In addition to mitigating the land use impacts of climate change, the Strategy also recommends measures to reduce the levels of greenhouse gases produced by land use development that contribute to climate change. The Strategy recommends:
1. Developing a greenhouse gas (GHG) emission inventory and benchmarks;
2. Creating higher development densities and promoting mixed land uses to reduce travel demand;
3. Improving the walkability of development;
4. Promoting transit-oriented development;
5. Introducing parking restrictions;
6. Improving energy efficiency in new development;
7. Improving water efficiency;
8. Increasing the use of recycled water in new development;
9. Improving the energy and water efficiency of retrofitted development;
10. Reducing the embodied energy of development;
11. Designing for structure reuse;
12. Planning for large-scale renewable energy production;
13. Increasing onsite renewable energy in new development.
Figure: Climate Change Strategy Objectives
To help achieve these actions, the Strategy developed three Climate Change Assessment Tools:
- Urban Planning Tool – estimates the change in annual CO₂ emissions associated with changes in the land use designation for a parcel of land. The tool estimates GHG emissions from any form of development. It also displays heat island and surface flood information at the site location.
- Building Construction Application – Estimates one-time CO₂ emissions associated with materials and activities during the construction of a building or other project.
- GHG Emissions Tracker – Collects annual CO₂ emissions resulting from specific reportable activities by major urban emitters. The tool captures gas emissions associated with ongoing operations at a site.
The Climate Change Strategy has been completed, including the Urban Planning Tool and GHG Emissions Tracker. An Action Plan for the Strategy is currently in development.
Following are the Links to Climate Change Strategy