Net zero water

Water industry launches world’s first sector-wide plan to deliver net zero carbon emissions by 2030

Jarvis Smith - My Green Pod

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Published: 14 November 2020

This Article was Written by: Jarvis Smith - My Green Pod

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Water companies have unveiled a plan to deliver a net zero water supply for customers by 2030 in the world’s first sector-wide commitment of its kind.

The Net Zero 2030 Routemap sets out the industry’s vision for how water companies, which together produce almost a third of UK industrial and waste process emissions, will play their part in tackling climate change by reaching net zero two decades ahead of the government’s legally binding target of 2050.

By joining forces in this way, the sector expects to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 10 million tonnes

Water bills and green skills

The Routemap offers a 10-point plan for decarbonisation including recommendations for government and regulators that will help protect customer bills and keep investment costs down.

At the same time, the plan will support the development of green skills and nature-based solutions as part of the economic recovery. 

‘This Routemap is a crucial step forward in setting out the industry’s vision for tackling climate change as we work towards a green and resilient recovery for society, the economy and the environment.
 
‘We don’t have all the answers, and we can’t do it alone. But with the support of government, regulators and the supply chain, we believe we can deliver a net zero water supply for customers that also helps build the green skills and solutions needed to protect the environment for generations to come.’

CHRISTINE MCGOURTY
Water UK chief executive

Solutions identified

The Net Zero 2030 Routemap identifies a variety of technologies and initiatives that will be needed.
 
These include the restoration of 20,000 hectares of owned peatland and grassland, and planting of 11 million trees, plus the electrification of 100% of passenger vehicles and the transition of 80% of commercial vehicles (LGVs and HGVs) to alternative fuels.

The Routemap states the production of biomethane from sewage waste will allow green gas to be injected into the grid to heat up to 150,000 homes and/or be used as an alternative fuel for transport.

The development of up to 3GW of new solar and wind generation capacity would provide enough power to meet 80% of the sector’s electricity demands.

‘Our waterways are the lifeblood of our environment and effective water supply is essential for human health. We think of our rivers, canals, lakes and wetlands and the land that surrounds our reservoirs as beautiful landscape features, but they are also the vital ecosystem that supplies our clean drinking water, provides a home for our precious wildlife and, in good condition, can help tackle the climate crisis by storing huge amounts of carbon.

‘It is crucial for our future and in order to deliver on its own commitments that the government gives the water sector the support it needs to decarbonise and help reverse nature’s decline. With 15% of UK species at threat of extinction, the nature crisis must be tackled with the same urgency as the climate crisis.’

BECCY SPEIGHT
CEO of the RSPB

‘There’s more to do’

The water sector has almost halved operational emissions since 2011 through a combination of energy efficiency measures, renewable energy generation and the production of biomethane from sewage treatment processes.
  
But as an industry that provides one of the most vital natural resources to over 26 million households and businesses every day, water companies know there is more to do.

The new Routemap suggests a commitment to society and the environment through the use of renewable energy, sustainable management of our land and dedicated programmes to support vulnerable people and local groups.

‘Stepping up to becoming net zero by 2030 is a big challenge for one of the most energy-demanding services that society demands from our natural environment. In using nature-based solutions, the water industry will demonstrate not only how it will meet that #NetZero challenge, but deliver multiple additional benefits for all users of this precious natural resource.’

DARREN MOORCROFT
CEO of the Woodland Trust

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