Water industry launches carbon neutrality project

3rd December 2019


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Water companies in England have today launched a major project to plan how the sector will become the first in the UK to achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2030.

International consultancies Mott MacDonald and Ricardo will carry out research on behalf of Water UK and UKWIR to agree a practical approach, assessing what carbon reduction measures will be most impactful.

The sector will publish a comprehensive plan next March detailing what action it will take to achieve net zero emissions over the next decade, followed by a detailed report in the summer.

Progress on the 2030 goal will be independently assessed each year, with key milestones reported publicly. Individual companies will use the action plan to inform their own approaches to carbon neutrality.

“This is an important first step on the sector's journey to be net carbon zero by 2030, said Peter Simpson, chief executive of Anglican Water, and one of the project's sponsors.

“This vital project will help us find the technologies and processes we need to help us become carbon zero. Bringing in outside expertise to help us reach this target is essential.“

As the fourth most energy-intensive industry in the UK, the water sector directly contributes to around five million tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions every year.

It is the first industrial sector in the UK – and one of the first major industries in the world – to commit to carbon neutrality by 2030, and did so in a Public Interest Commitment earlier this year (PIC).

As well as the immediate impact of carbon reductions, the industry intends to share its learnings to help other major energy-using industries to deliver their own plans.

Additional targets announced in the PIC include tripling the rate of leakage reduction across the sector by 2030, and preventing the equivalent of four billion plastic bottles ending up as waste.

It has also pledged to make bills affordable, as a minimuim, for all households with water and sewerage bills more than 5% of their disposable income by 2030, and develop a strategy to end water poverty.

Moreover, it has said it will become the first sector to achieve 100% commitment to the Social Mobility Pledge.

“The water industry is committed to playing a leading role in decarbonising our economy and while achieving net zero carbon for the sector by 2030 is an extremely challenging task there is huge conviction, enthusiasm and passion from across the sector to ensure we achieve it, Simpson added.

Image credit: ©iStock

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