Water industry joins forces in global call for investment to address process emissions

A wastewater treatment plant.

Water industry trade bodies around the world have joined forces in a call for investment to address the emissions associated with processing wastewater.

Process emissions occur when wastewater is treated before returning it to the environment, producing several by-products including the potent greenhouse gas nitrous oxide, biomethane and carbon dioxide.

Water UK, EurEau, the US Water Alliance, the Water Services Association of Australia, and Water New Zealand call for governments and the global water industry to commit to working together to tackle process emissions, which constitute around half of the water sector’s total emissions. By working together, governments can help to secure long-term funding to enable water companies to go further and faster in reducing processing emissions.

Christine McGourty, CEO of Water UK, said: “The water sector cannot play its full part in net zero without the reduction of emissions from processing wastewater. Governments around the world need to concentrate their efforts on one of the great challenges of our time, emulating the success of wind power, enabling a step change of technology at systems-scale.  

“Developing and investing in the best solutions will also unlock new materials for the circular economy, and help others decarbonise.”

The group is also committed to establishing a research directory to help accelerate the sector’s global efforts to reduce nitrous oxide and methane emissions; and a global forum to share research conclusions and collaborate on future activity to expedite the reduction of greenhouse has emissions.

Mami Hara, CEO of the US Water Alliance, added: “In addressing the climate crisis, we all win or we all lose. As the global water community accelerates climate mitigation efforts, we must continue to come together to share critical information and innovative strategies on how best to do so.

“In 2021, we launched a national Imagination Team with 36 diverse representatives creating a shared vision and pathway for greenhouse gas reductions across the US water sector. It is so exciting seeing water stakeholders step up to be part of the climate solution. Process emissions remain a significant challenge, and we’re proud to collaborate across the globe on this important area and ensure a more equitable, sustainable future for all.”