Going with the flow: Water industry promises net zero action plan

  • Dec 03, 2019
  • Business Green

The UK's water industry will next year release a "comprehensive action plan" for how the sector plans to hit to net zero emissions by 2030, trade body Water UK announced today.

The sector has contracted consultancies Mott MacDonald and Ricardo to draw up the strategy, which will see firms cut carbon emissions and purchase offsets to mitigate the sector's annual five million tonnes of CO2 emissions.

Anglian Water chief executive Peter Simpson said the move was an "important first step" in getting the water industry to net zero emissions.

"This vital project will help us find the technologies and processes we will need to help us become carbon zero," he said. "We've made great strides in recent years reducing both operational and embedded carbon, but we don't have all the answers. So, bringing in outside expertise to help us reach this target is essential."

The water industry first promised to hit net zero emissions by 2030 in April, as part of the industry's Public Interest Commitment that also included goals to prevent plastic pollution and reduce leakages.

It has already announced some of the measures it is planning to undertake cut emissions, including pledges to plant 11 million trees across the country by 2030, encourage people to use refillable water bottles and tap water to slash bottled water use, and work to curb leaks to cut carbon emissions and energy use.

Progress against the net zero goal will be assessed annually by independent experts, Water UK said.

Individual water companies are expected to use the industry plan as a springboard for their own net zero strategy, it added.

Maria Manidaki, water sector carbon management lead at Mott MacDonald, warned water companies must be prepared for "fundamental changes" to their infrastructure systems and integration into the wider economy.

"Leadership, collaboration and fresh thinking will be paramount to achieving a net zero transformation and both Ricardo and Mott MacDonald are ready to drive this change with Water UK," she said.

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