Building business resilience in a net zero world: Qatar’s pathway to decarbonisation

Author: Tim Mawhood, Salma Bin Breik, Fatma Selmi
Panoramic view of Qatar Skyline with water reflection

At a glance

Organisations in Qatar are exploring new ways of working and doing business while lowering carbon emissions. As sustainable commercial outcomes become the end-goal for forward-thinking organisations in the region, investing in decarbonisation strategies moves to the front and centre. Businesses need to produce meaningful decarbonisation plans with solid roadmaps that demonstrate how to decouple growth from emissions, while minimising risk and boosting the bottom line. This article shares guidance from the GHD Advisory team on where to focus efforts to build strength and resiliency into your decarbonisation strategy and planning.

Organisations in Qatar are exploring new ways of working and doing business while lowering carbon emissions. As sustainable commercial outcomes become the end-goal for forward-thinking organisations in the region, investing in decarbonisation strategies moves to the front and centre.

2030 and beyond: Qatar’s sustainability landscape 

In Qatar, the commitment to international climate agreements has emerged as a pivotal driver in its decarbonisation journey, compelling the nation to align with global efforts to combat climate change. Simultaneously, the worldwide pivot towards cleaner energy sources has exerted considerable pressure on Qatar to reconfigure its energy landscape, moving away from fossil fuels.

Furthermore, Qatar's resilience in pursuing economic diversification beyond hydrocarbon resources signifies its determination to reduce dependence on a single source of income or demand. This economic shift is integral to the broader decarbonisation strategy and ensures long-term sustainability in the region, both culturally and economically.

In addition to these economic and international considerations, Qatar faces mounting environmental concerns, underscored by the stark realities of climate change. Addressing carbon emissions becomes imperative to mitigate these risks and safeguard the region's ecological stability.

Notably, the rapid advancements in clean energy technologies have opened new avenues for Qatar to transition towards greener energy sources while upholding economic stability. These technological breakthroughs have significantly enhanced the feasibility of sustainable energy adoption.

Yet, for businesses to actively contribute to Qatar's decarbonisation objectives, a fundamental alignment of goals and an embrace of transformative thinking is imperative. Achieving this alignment helps governments to take the lead in facilitating and propelling changes in policies, investments, and practices within Qatar. This proactive approach will cultivate a holistic and collaborative ecosystem across public, private and industry stakeholders.

Organisations embarking on a decarbonisation strategy can begin by asking and exploring the following three questions.

1. Understand your emissions profile

Begin by deeply understanding your baseline GHG emissions profile and broader consumption across every possible output. Gather your scope 1, 2 and 3 emissions by identifying carbon sources throughout the organisation. Digital solutions are providing an increasingly efficient and convenient way to collect accurate emissions assessments. Gaining clear visibility of your baseline emissions maps the effectiveness of future targets and measures the success of your strategy. Embedding the correct reporting and metrics to track current and future status sets a strong measure of progress. And with mandatory reporting on the horizon, time spent now will be resources saved later.

As part of this important first step, gathering a systematic inventory of your emissions, energy spending, energy-using assets, contracts, and systems is critical. Do you know the carbon intensity of your electricity sources and whether the grid currently supplies or is planning to switch to green energy? The approach is more complex for carbon-intensive industries and organisations.

Transitioning to greener energy and fuel sources requires more integrated planning and risk analysis. More often, these organisations and industries are implementing sophisticated energy and GHG management technology tools and platforms to gain visibility of emissions monitoring and improve planning.

2. Uncover new opportunities to actively decarbonise

The simplest way to introduce emission reduction is to develop an energy management programme to drive operational efficiencies through cost-effective lighting, mechanical upgrades and retrofits. Outside of this, and more importantly for long-term growth, organisations must focus on the energy sources representing the most significant risk to their operational and commercial models. For example, energy sources that are inefficient or have outdated infrastructure. Get on the front foot by prioritising the riskiest, most polluting, most hazardous and most costly energy sources from the outset – as the lead time to transition is longer and planning more cumbersome.

Another critical consideration to prioritise early in the planning phase is understanding the viability and durability of your energy sources and supply. Connecting back to the holistic approach, energy purchasing decisions should consider more than costs and extend to long-term emissions reduction goals, ensuring energy sources are scalable, sustainable, and resilient.

3. Evaluate business model viability in a low-carbon economy

Future-ready organisations recognise and embrace the opportunities of a net zero future. Others view it through a lens of compliance and regulation, motivated solely by risk. The business case for decarbonisation is increasingly evident, and competitive advantages are up for the taking with strong market potential in clean technologies, green energy, carbon capture and storage, renewables particularly in solar, along with energy generation and storage and low emission transportation, with big focus on electric vehicles.

Spending time determining the financial opportunities from decarbonising often leads to transformative conversations. It allows new ideas about business models, products, solutions, and processes to emerge. Part of this discussion is assessing the economic costs of decarbonisation and the overall impact on operations. Many of the models GHD Advisory uses inform strategy, detail the barriers and obstacles to decarbonising and take into consideration a broad range of transitional risks. These include ageing assets and infrastructure, regulatory and policy, consequences of non-adherence and reputational risks.

GHD Advisory guidance:

  • Working through the above three areas within a structured, impactful framework is a strong starting point to inform your sustainability decision-making. Once emission reduction, mitigation and new opportunity pathways are explored and assessed, roadmaps and implementation plans demonstrate response and progress to maximise the commercial value to the organisation.
  • Decarbonisation efforts must align with the organisation's sustainability beliefs, values and goals. Stakeholder involvement and engagement in decarbonisation shouldn't be an afterthought. Focusing on what we know now, we understand where clients are on their journey and where to fill in the gaps.
  • Showing leadership and ambition means establishing a decarbonisation strategy that thoroughly captures and understands climate change impacts and vulnerabilities across the business. Having data-based tools and methodologies to accurately assess your current state of play to inform thinking and decisions sets the groundwork. Identifying energy conservation programs forms part of the ongoing roadmap.
  • Organisations can reduce their carbon footprint while advancing their business strategy and profit margins by exploring new products and services that reduce emissions while enabling growth.
  • It's not a case of if but when climate-disclosure regulations will become mandatory. Proactively report and communicate your decarbonisation plans to avoid last-minute scrambling.

Learn more about how GHD Advisory can help you deliver on sustainability goals including programme visioning and governance, stakeholder engagement, materiality assessment and ESG programming.