Water UK, the trade body representing all major companies in the sector, has been named as an official partner for the UNFCCC’s Race to Zero Campaign, which was set up to inspire a holistic and ambitious approach to the global net-zero transition.

Between 2011 and 2019, gross operational emissions from the UK’s water sector fell by almost 45% – but work must be accelerated to meet net-zero by 2030

Race to Zero was launched last year as part of preparations for COP26 in Glasgow. The conference is regarded as the most important since Paris in 2015, where the Paris Agreement was ratified, and the idea of the campaign is to rally support across businesses, cities, regions and investors globally.

Since then, the UNFCCC has announced 20 official Race to Zero partners, including the We Mean Business Coalition, B Corporation, the SME Climate Hub and the Climate Pledge, orchestrated by Amazon and Global Optimism.

Water UK is the first body exclusively representing utilities to be named as an official partner. It is the driving force behind the sector’s roadmap for reaching net-zero by 2030, published in November 2020. The roadmap estimates that the sector will need to invest some £2-4bn in new infrastructure, technology and jobs to meet the commitment.

Focus areas for the roadmap include reducing methane releases, improving energy efficiency, increasing self-generated renewables use from solar and anaerobic digestion, procuring renewables electricity, providing biogas to the grid, moving to electric for construction equipment like diggers and rolling out electric and alternative fuel vehicles for fleets.

All major water companies in the UK have signed on to the roadmap, including Anglian Water and Severn Trent. Support is also being provided by UKWIR and consultancies Ricardo and Mott MacDonald.

“The publication of the Net Zero 2030 Routemap was a major step forward for our sector so we’re incredibly proud to be taking this forward as the first industry trade body to join the Race to Zero campaign,” Water UK’s chief executive Christine McGourty said.

“Working in partnership with other businesses, government and our regulators, we intend to deliver this plan decisively, openly and quickly, and look forward to sharing our experience with other infrastructure, utility and energy-intensive industries as we continue to tackle the threat of global climate change.”

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