UK water industry sets 2030 net zero target

3rd April 2020 | Water

Water UK has announced that it will develop plans to achieve net zero emissions across the water sector by 2030. The trade body represents more than 25 water and wastewater companies. Water UK has already cut emissions by 43% since 2011, with renewable electricity generation increasing by 40% in that time. This has occurred despite population increases and the impact of the climate crisis.

Following work with two consultancies, Ricardo and Mott Macdonald, it has set out how to can create a strategy to cut emissions. At an event on 6 March, the project consultants presented an analysis to delegates from the water sector of the water sector’s efforts to reduce to date, and outlined objectives towards achieving net zero emissions. These aims include: cutting methane and other emissions from wastewater treatment processes, improving energy efficiency, increasing use of renewable sources such as solar and anaerobic digestion, and generating biogas for the gas grid.

Net zero

A full strategy based on the discussion from the event and the recommendations by the consultancies is due to be published in the summer. When the strategy is drawn up, progress on reaching the 2030 target will be assessed annually and companies will be encouraged to use the strategy to inform their own climate strategies. Water UK’s research will also be shared with other energy-intensive sectors to help them with their net zero plan.

Christine McGourty, Water UK Chief Executive, said, “The water industry has made an ambitious pledge to achieve net zero carbon by 2030. It’s a big challenge, but water companies are committed to protecting and enhancing the environment and intend to be part of the solution to the climate crisis. This new analysis setting out climate-friendly options is an important step forward.”

Ian Behling from the Ricardo Mott MacDonald project team, said, “The work we’ve done so far in developing the route map has highlighted the ambition shown by companies and the scale of the challenge to deliver against the commitment. It has also further highlighted the need for collaboration within and beyond the water sector to help deliver the innovation and change needed to meet the net zero challenge.”

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