Posted: Wednesday 14th August 2013

The water industry must play its part in meeting the UK’s greenhouse gas emission targets – an 80% reduction by 2050. In its latest report, CIWEM examines how this can be achieved, and urges Ofwat to offer financial incentives.

n a new report published recently, A blueprint for carbon emissions reduction in the UK water industry, the Chartered Institution of Water and Environmental Management (CIWEM) says that water companies should deliver progressive cuts in carbon emissions to help meet national reduction targets set by the Climate Change Act.

The UK water industry is a large consumer of energy and is responsible for 3% of the UK’s greenhouse gas emissions, but CIWEM believes it is well placed to reduce these emissions and become a significant generator of renewable energy.

“The industry is awake to this issue, with the most ambitious water companies aspiring to carbon neutrality by the target date of 2050. But that ambition is not uniform across the industry, and in order achieve this aspiration, incentives are likely to be needed to help drive companies past the easy wins,” says Alastair Chisholm, CIWEM Policy Manager and lead report author.

Though supportive of the economic regulator’s position which gives companies flexibility to meet these emission targets, CIWEM believes there is scope for a financial incentive mechanism to be worked into Ofwat’s future price limits work.

The report suggests the industry could and should be working to reduce its carbon emissions by around 10% per 5-year investment cycle. However, CIWEM says this will not be possible through reducing direct industry emissions alone, and more action will be needed to reduce indirect emissions, through a combination of energy efficiency, renewable energy generation and purchase of low-carbon grid electricity.

Further research, development and knowledge sharing will also be necessary to ensure that early innovation is brought into commercial reality as fast as possible and to ensure that the maximum emission cuts by the water industry are achieved.

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