Water UK's CEO Christine McGourty considers the role of partnerships in building a blueprint for decarbonisation in the water industry and beyond
Water is critical to all our lives, and yet it's estimated that England alone could see a shortfall of at least 3.4 billion litres of water a day by 2050 as a result of climate change and population growth.
It's clear then that, as a sector and as a nation, we could be hit hard by the effects of climate change. As we look towards COP26 next year however, it's also important to note the critical nature of water for successful climate change mitigation, as many efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions depend on safe and reliable access to water resources.
As custodians of a commodity so seemingly simple, and yet utterly essential to all our lives, water companies are keenly aware of their role in tackling the challenge of climate change head on.
Our vision is to deliver a net zero water supply for customers by 2030. We've already made considerable progress towards that goal, achieving reductions of almost 45 per cent since 2011, and have joined forces to build the world's first detailed plan for how we're going to get to net zero on a sector-wide basis.
Set for launch this November, the Net Zero 2030 Routemap will provide a blueprint for water companies to develop their own net zero action plans, combining action to reduce water and energy consumption, generate more renewable energy, invest in new technologies and processes, and promote nature-based solutions.
There will be no easy answers, nor will the Routemap provide a 'one size fits all' pathway to 2030. What it will do is galvanise our teams and set out the opportunities for the entire value chain to align efforts to deliver this critical transition, while supporting a green, resilient recovery from Covid-19. It's also our hope that we will be able to share our learnings from this process with other sectors looking to make their own plans, and to support the government's wider 2050 target.
There can be no denying that we live in unprecedented times. But as the country continues to manage the impact of the pandemic, so too must we look ahead to the opportunity for collaboration and partnerships that will help to drive industries of all shapes and sizes towards a cleaner and greener future.
Coming together to share knowledge and inspire new approaches and innovations is the new imperative that will protect this precious planet that we live on. From consumers, small enterprises and big business through to NGOs, policymakers and regulators, we can go further and faster, together.
Christine McGourty is the chief executive of Water UK, the water and sewerage industry's trade body for the United Kingdom. She spoke recently on the steps the water industry is taking to build its Routemap to net zero as part of BusinessGreen's Net Zero Festival.
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