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United on the Race to Zero

Water UK is proud to be an official partner to the Race to Zero campaign.

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 2021, 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.  

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.   

Why water matters  

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

With 50 of the largest utilities supply drinking water to more than 1 billion people, we believe that water companies can play an essential role in building a resilient future.  

Our members’ commitment to net zero 

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.  

Water companies in the UK have almost halved operational emissions since 2011 through a combination of energy efficiency measures, renewable energy and the production of biomethane from sewage treatment processes.  

In November 2020, we published our Net Zero 2030 Routemap. Using over a decade’s worth of sector-level emissions data, the Routemap provides a view of what the sector’s journey to net zero may look like, highlighting a number of potential pathway scenarios designed to guide the development of detailed net zero action plans at an individual company level.  

The Routemap identifies a variety of technologies and initiatives that may be needed including the production of biomethane from sewage waste; the deployment of new renewables capacity to meet 80% of the sector’s electricity demand; the restoration of 20,000 hectares of owned peatland and grassland; the 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 here 

How to join the Race to Zero 

The Race to Zero is an umbrella campaign – driven by science – that aggregates net zero commitments from a range of leading networks and initiatives across the climate action community. 

The High-level Climate Champions require that all members of the campaign meet a minimum set of procedural criteria, which represent the “Starting Line” for the race to zero emissions.  

If you would like to find out more about how to join the Race to Zero through Water UK, please send an email to racetozero@water.org.uk