Water companies in England will work with two international consultancies, Ricardo and Mott MacDonald, to design an action plan to achieve net-zero carbon emissions by 2030.
The consultancies will add their expertise and lead on the production of the plan, which will be published in March 2020 followed by a detailed report in the Summer.
Ricardo and Mott Macdonald, on behalf of Water UK and UKWIR, will carry out research to help define and agree on a practical approach to the pledge, while also assessing what carbon reduction measures will have the most impact.
Progress on the goal will be independently assessed each year, with key milestones reported publicly. Individual companies will use the action plan to inform their own detailed approaches to meeting net zero across the industry by 2030.
As the fourth most energy-intensive industry in the UK, the water sector directly contributes around 5 million tonnes of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions each year.
Water companies have already started working towards the carbon zero goal with many programmes and initiatives in place, including a plan to plant 11 million trees on land owned by water companies by 2030.
Peter Simpson, chief executive of Anglian Water and one of the sponsors of the project on behalf of the sector, said: ‘We’ve made great strides in recent years reducing both operational and embedded carbon, but we don’t have all the answers. So, bringing in outside expertise to help us reach this target is essential.’
Ian Behling, project director from Ricardo for the net-zero strategy, added: ‘We’re proud to be working on this project, and both Ricardo and Mott MacDonald are able to bring a wealth of experience and technical understanding that will support the UK water industry in creating a robust and effective net zero strategy.
‘This important investment not only sets the direction of the UK’s water industry, but will also influence other sectors, given the important role the water companies will play in supporting the UK’s 2050 net zero ambition.’