Climate Action

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

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

  • 13 November 2020
  • Rachel Cooper

Water companies have unveiled a ground-breaking 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 UK Government’s legally binding target of 2050. 

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 while supporting the development of green skills and nature-based solutions as part of the economic recovery.

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

Christine McGourty, Water UK Chief Executive, said: “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.”

The Net Zero 2030 Routemap is being launched to a global audience at the Race to Zero Dialogues, which are being held from 9 – 19th November and will serve as critical input to the UNFCCC Climate Dialogues later in the month. Together, both Dialogues will set the stage for the Anniversary of the Paris Agreement on 12 December as the world embarks on the ‘Race to Zero’ towards COP26 in 2021.

Nigel Topping, UK High-level Climate Champion for COP26, said: “Setting ambitious goals is a crucial part of how we take successful climate action, and Water UK is proving this with the target to reach net zero two decades ahead of the Paris Agreement. By taking these steps as an industry towards decarbonisation, they will accelerate the pace of the Race to Zero within the water sector and beyond.”

The findings of the Routemap estimate a potential investment of £2–4bn based on the two pathways that get us closest to net zero by 2030 and based on currently available technology and known costs.

Final costs will become clearer as individual water companies build their own detailed net zero action plans and on policy choices by Government and other sectors like energy, as well as site-specific factors that are not yet all known.

The development of the Routemap builds on the significant progress made by the sector in recent years, having 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.

Find out more here.

Want to find out how different industries are doing to ensure we reach the net-zero target by 2050? Find out at the Sustainable Innovation Forum 2020 taking place across 5 days from the 16 - 20 November where we will discuss Climate Policy & Finance, Energy Transition, Sustainable Mobility, Industry Transition and Land Use & Agriculture. Register today to secure your place with industry leading experts for free.