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World Water Day 2021: Global water community challenged to join the Race to Zero

Water companies around the world are being called on to join forces and transform their approach to tackling the carbon emissions associated with supplying water to billions of homes every year.

Launched in support of the UN’s World Water Day, the UK water industry is working as an official partner to the Race to Zero campaign to encourage providers of water and wastewater services to commit to achieving net zero ahead of the COP26 Climate Conference this November.

Led by the UN’s High-Level Climate Champions for Climate Action, the Race to Zero is a global campaign, which aims to rally leadership across businesses, cities, regions and investors for a healthy, resilient, zero carbon recovery. In January this year, the campaign launched its Race to Zero Breakthroughs, setting out the near-term targets that must be reached in the next decade by the nearly 30 sectors that make up the global economy.

For the water sector, the campaign’s ambition is to mobilise major water companies responsible for 20% of global water supply, with the aim of delivering the full decarbonisation of water and wastewater services in 20 countries by 2030.

Nigel Topping, high level climate champion for COP26 said: "We cannot win the Race to Zero emissions by racing alone. Private sector leaders will need to work in partnership and commit their skills, ingenuity and resources to achieving crucial Breakthroughs - and I'm delighted to see the water industry leading the way."

Water UK was the first industry trade body to be made one of just 20 official partners to the campaign having published the world’s first detailed plan to deliver a net zero water supply for customers by 2030.

Christine McGourty, Water UK chief executive, said: “All eyes are on the UK as we prepare to host this year’s COP summit so we’re incredibly proud to be playing our part and mobilising water companies around the world on the Race to Zero.

“We don’t have all the answers, but we are committed to sharing our learnings with the global water community, and with other sectors, as they embark on their own net zero journeys.”

Global water utilities are currently responsible for almost 2% of greenhouse gas emissions, a figure that is set to more than double by 2040 as growing demand for ever more scarce water supplies drives reliance on energy-intensive sources of water supply such as desalination, large water transfers and more treatment.

It is predicted that demand for water worldwide will exceed sustainable supply by 40% by 2030.

United Utilities has been confirmed as the latest UK water company to join the campaign alongside Anglian Water and Severn Trent.

Chris Matthews, head of sustainability, United Utilities said: “Water companies, more than any other industry, are on the frontline of climate change. Every year we see the evidence of changing weather patterns with more frequent periods of drought, hot weather and extremes of heavy rainfall and flooding.

“It is absolutely right that we take the lead when it comes to cutting our own carbon emissions. But we can’t do this alone, and we encourage water companies around the world to work in partnership with other stakeholders in the water cycle to maximise our impact on this global challenge. Together we can innovate and develop the nature-based infrastructure we need to improve our environment at a cost that society can afford.”

To find out more about the Race to Zero and register your interest in joining the campaign, go to www.water.org.uk/racetozero

Topic: Sustainability & social value , Water resources
Tags: economy , water companies , UN , wastewater , gas , emissions , skills , leaders , greenhouse gas emissions , world water day , Water supply , utilities , Water UK

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