“Climate Change, Resource and Infrastructure Use: Emerging Regional and International Law Issues”

Rudiger

Rudiger

Rudiger is the Director for The Center for Energy, Environmental and Sustainability Law and Policy at Qatar University College of Law and focused his presentation on the policy and regulatory options to mitigate climate change in Qatar.

 

He began his presentation by drawing attention to the recent development changes in Qatar that have been popping up all over the coastal regions.  Because of recent economic booms, these developments have been rapid, intense, and all serve a luxury clientele seeking to make their homes on the coasts.  Developments like the Pearl, are beginning to pepper Qatar’s coast, but their luxury features are not the only thing these developments have in common.  They also share an increased risk of coastal flooding, limited roads for egress, and high populations.  These factors combined create large risks of disaster.

 

So what does all of this mean for Qatar?  According to Rudiger, it means they need to start moving forward with a comprehensive plan to adapt to climate change.  As he noted, Qatar does not have one yet, but there are isolated efforts being pursued.  Unfortunately, there are also significant factors working against these efforts.  Currently, Qatar has virtually no options for public transit and lacks a focus on climate issues in its development projects.  And the recent economic upturn has focused the mentality of citizens toward enjoying the newfound wealth while ignoring thoughts about the future.

 

The reality of the situation is complex.  Qatar does have the money, resources, and infrastructure expansions that could all favorably respond and adapt to pressing climate issues, but these are not unchallenged.  Adapting to rising sea level is expensive and can be burdensome to construction projects that typically prioritize speediness.

 

While adaptation to coastal change may not be on the forefront of Qatar’s mind, Rudiger thinks it ought to be.  Infrastructure, particularly coastal infrastructure, is going to be crucial to Qatar’s ability to remain resilient in changing times.  Rudiger thinks focusing on what infrastructure is important and critical, while evaluating to whom and what for, is an essential question as Qatar continues to develop.  Unfortunately, as coastal changes continue to make these issues more pressing, Rudiger thinks Qatar may ultimately have to address which infrastructure can and cannot be saved.

 

As Qatar moves forward to address these issues, Rudiger thinks it is critical that they build a legal framework in order to do so.  He recommends a legal framework that balances issues of confidentiality and essentiality, national security, and academia.  A balance between these three areas will provide Qatar the legal framework and flexibility to move forward on these issues and make real strides towards positive adaptation.  But, as he also notes, Qatar needs the capacity and people who are dedicating themselves to this area.

 

Rudiger believes that Qatar can effectively address climate and coastal changes, but they need to act quickly to do so.  Establishing a legal framework to enable these changes as well as important infrastructure adaptations are both instrumental to Qatar’s ability to cope.  However, the first steps to addressing those changes is creating a fundamental shift in the mentality of citizens and policy makers and their ability to do so will be crucial to the effectiveness of their efforts.

Blog Post By: Kelsey Baack

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