WWT: UK water companies unite for Race to Zero campaign

UK water companies have joined forces as part of the international Race to Zero campaign – pledging to deliver a net zero water supply for customers by 2030.

Water UK is the first industry trade body to be made just one of 20 official partners to the UNFCCC’s Race to Zero campaign, which aims to rally leadership across businesses, cities, regions and investors for a healthy, resilient, zero carbon recovery.

Anglian Water and Severn Trent have been confirmed as the first companies to join the campaign under the Water UK umbrella, building on the launch of the sector’s Net Zero 2030 Routemap in November last year.

Designed to provide water companies with a framework on which to build their own net zero action plans, the Routemap estimates potential investments of £2-4bn into tackling the emissions associated with providing clean water to over 28 million homes and businesses.

Christine McGourty, Water UK chief executive, said: “The publication of the Net Zero 2030 Routemap was a major step forward for our sector so we’re incredibly proud to be taking this forward as the first industry trade body to join the Race to Zero campaign.

“Working in partnership with other businesses, government, and our regulators, we intend to deliver this plan decisively, openly and quickly, and look forward to sharing our experience with other infrastructure, utility and energy-intensive industries as we continue to tackle the threat of global climate change.”

The UK water industry was the first sector anywhere in the world to publish a comprehensive Routemap to achieve net zero on an industry-wide basis. It is estimated that water companies will prevent the emission of 10 million tonnes of greenhouse gases by reaching net zero two decades earlier than the UK Government’s legally binding target for 2050.

Nigel Topping, high level climate champion for COP26, said: “Water UK has shone a light on the path to net zero for the water sector with a ground-breaking plan to deliver a net zero water supply for customers by 2030 – the world’s first sector-wide commitment of its kind. We’re delighted to welcome them as a partner of the Race to Zero campaign, and to catalyse ambitious climate action across the water sector as we race to COP26.”

Anglian Water chief executive Peter Simpson said: “We’re proud to be one of the first companies to join the international Race to Zero Campaign, and to share our ambition and journey as an industry to reach net zero carbon by 2030.

“Never has the opportunity been greater to work towards a better, greener recovery from the coronavirus pandemic, nor has the need been more critical. In the East of England, we face the challenges brought by climate change and population growth more keenly than anywhere else in the UK, and it is only by working collaboratively towards a common goal that we will reach our target.”

Severn Trent customer operations director James Jesic said: “We’re extremely proud to be one of the first water companies in the UK to sign up to the Race to Zero campaign, joining like-minded companies from around the world to make a real difference.

“This campaign is the perfect fit for us, building on the great work we’ve already been doing to deliver a net zero water supply for our customers by 2030. We believe initiatives like this can make a real difference to the environment, as well as for people and the communities we serve.”

Read about what each of the water companies is doing to reach net-zero by 2030 (or earlier) here

Water UK represents all water companies in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.

The development of the Net Zero 2030 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.

The Routemap identifies a variety of technologies and initiatives that will be needed including:

  • The production of biomethane from sewage waste, allowing green gas to be injected into the grid to heat up to 150,000 homes and/or for use as an alternative fuel for transport
  • The development of up to 3GW of new solar and wind generation capacity – enough power to meet 80% of the sector’s electricity demands
  • The restoration of 20,000 hectares of owned peatland and grassland, and planting of 11 million trees
  • The electrification of 100% of passenger vehicles and transition of 80% of commercial vehicles (LGVs and HGVs) to alternative fuels.

Find out more about the Net Zero 2030 Routemap here: www.water.org.uk/routemap2030



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