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Water industry marks first anniversary as new members join Race to Zero

  • South West Water and Welsh Water are the latest water companies to join the Race to Zero
  • Water companies signed up to the global campaign are responsible for suppling water and wastewater services to almost 19m UK customers
  • First sector in the world to publish a detailed Routemap to achieve net zero emissions

Water UK marks the first anniversary of the Race to Zero by announcing South West Water and Welsh Water as the latest water companies to join the global campaign to tackle climate change.

Together with existing campaign members Anglian Water, Severn Trent and United Utilities, the companies are responsible for the delivery of water and wastewater services to almost 19 million customers through a network of over 5,000 sites, and over 430,000km of underground pipes.

The UK water industry was the first sector in the world to publish a detailed Routemap to achieve net zero on operational emissions by 2030. Published in November last year, the Net Zero 2030 Routemap is now being used by all UK water companies as a framework on which to build their own net zero action plans.

Earlier this month, Welsh Water announced plans to reduce both operational and capital carbon emissions to net zero by 2040, including a commitment to be 35% energy self-sufficient by 2025 and achieve full energy independence by 2050. In addition to the Water UK 2030 commitment, South West Water has also committed to reducing all Scope 3 emissions – for example, greenhouse gases which come from purchasing goods and services – by no later than 2045.

The Race to Zero is the UN-backed global campaign rallying non-state actors – including companies, cities, regions, financial and educational institutions – to take rigorous and immediate action to halve global emissions by 2030 and deliver a healthier, fairer zero carbon world.

Christine McGourty, Water UK Chief Executive said:

“I am delighted to welcome South West Water and Welsh Water as the latest members of Race to Zero, and congratulate them on their net zero plans to address the global challenge of climate change.

“By working together, I truly believe that we can meet the challenge of cutting emissions to net zero well in advance of the UK’s target. As we approach COP26, I would encourage all water utilities from around the world to join our members on this essential journey as we work to build best practice and share learnings on the net zero challenge.”

Peter Perry, Welsh Water Chief Executive Officer said:

“We are delighted to have joined the Race to Zero and look forward to working together and sharing learning on the journey to net zero emissions. As a company owned on behalf of our customers, we know that the environment is important to them and are proud of our ambitious environmental plans.

“As one of the flagship companies in Wales, our target is about taking responsibility for managing the biggest challenge of our time in terms of climate change, focusing on the long-term and ensuring we help protect our customers, communities and the wider environment and create a better future for generations to come.”

Matt Crabtree, Engineering Director at South West Water said:

“South West Water is committed to our role in addressing the global challenge of Climate Change.

“We are scaling up our investment in the environment and have kickstarted our race to net zero. Joining the Race to Zero confirms the plans and work we have underway within our business, recognising that a healthy environment is vital for the long-term sustainability of our planet.”

Water UK is working as an official partner to the Race to Zero to encourage providers of water and wastewater services around the world to commit to achieving net zero ahead of the COP26 Climate Conference this November. 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.

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

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About the Race to Zero

  • The Race to Zero is the largest global alliance of credible commitments by non-state actors to achieving net zero emissions as soon as possible, and by 2050 at the latest
  • Other water companies to have joined the Race to Zero are: Aguas Andinas (Chile), Suez (French), Pura Somos Agua (Spain), Epal (Portugal), South East Water (UK), Yarra Valley Water (Australia), and Proyecta Agua Segura (Argentina)
  • More information on Scope 3 emissions can be found here, but it includes indirect emissions from purchasing goods and services, business travel, employee commuting, (up- and downstream) transportation and distribution

About Water UK and the Net Zero 2030 Routemap

  • Water UK represents all water companies in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.
  • The UK water industry was the first sector anywhere in the world to publish a comprehensive plan to achieve net zero on an industry-wide basis, having almost halved operational emissions since 2011
  • It is estimated that water companies in the UK alone 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

Why water matters in the Race to Zero

  • Global water utilities are currently responsible for almost 2% of greenhouse gas emissions, a figure that is set to more than double by 2040
  • It is predicted that demand for water worldwide will exceed sustainable supply by 40% by 2030