Financial incentives should be offered to UK water companies by the regulator Ofwat to help the industry meet carbon reduction targets, according to a new report from the Chartered Institution of Water and Environmental Management (CIWEM).
In its report 'A blueprint for carbon emissions reduction in the UK water industry', CIWEM says that water companies should deliver progressive cuts in carbon emissions to help meet national reduction targets set by the Climate Change Act. But although supportive of the economic regulator’s position which gives companies flexibility to meet these emission targets, CIWEM believes there is scope for a financial incentive mechanism to be worked into Ofwat’s future price limits work.
The UK water industry is a large consumer of energy and is responsible for about three per cent of the UK’s greenhouse gas emissions. But CIWEM believes the industry is well placed to reduce these emissions and become a significant generator of renewable energy.
“The industry is awake to this issue, with the most ambitious water companies aspiring to carbon neutrality by the target date of 2050," said Alastair Chisholm, CIWEM Policy Manager and lead report author. "But that ambition is not uniform across the industry, and in order achieve this aspiration, incentives are likely to be needed to help drive companies past the easy wins.”
CIWEM's report suggests the industry could and should be working to reduce its carbon emissions by around ten per cent per five-year investment cycle. However, the report says this will not be possible through reducing direct industry emissions alone, and more action will be needed to reduce indirect emissions, through a combination of energy efficiency, renewable energy generation and purchase of low-carbon grid electricity.
Further research, development and knowledge sharing will also be necessary to ensure that early innovation is brought into commercial reality as fast as possible and to ensure that the maximum emission cuts by the water industry are achieved.
The report is available exclusively online at www.ciwem.org/blueprint-for-carbon-emissions-reduction.