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Pathway to reducing greenhouse gas emissions in water


3 Dec 2021

3 December 2021

Water New Zealand is launching a new guide that it hopes will provide a clear pathway for the water sector to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Insights and sustainability advisor, Lesley Smith says the water sector is currently a net emitter of greenhouse gases but with better knowledge and technology, there are opportunities for it to both reduce emissions and recapture carbon as well.

“Not only is there a need to reduce emissions from infrastructure, wastewater by-products can also contribute to a circular economy – both through generating energy and reducing reliance on imported fertilisers.”

“But we need to improve our understanding of water sector emissions and increase biogas recovery from wastewater in order to reduce two potent greenhouse gases, methane and nitrous oxide.

She says that carbon dioxide emissions can also be reduced by using water assets to produce renewable energy, reduce water use and by modifying construction and operating practices.

Water New Zealand’s new guide Navigating to net zero: Aotearoa’s water sector low carbon journey focuses on these opportunities and provides a framework for action.

As part of New Zealand's commitment to the Paris Agreement which aims to limit global temperature increase to 1.5 degrees, we have two 2050 targets for emissions reduction.

We will need to reach a target of net zero emissions of all greenhouse gases other than biogenic methane and reduce biogenic emissions to between 24 to 47 per cent below 2017 levels.

“Achieving New Zealand’s emissions targets is going to be a huge undertaking. Water is a critical enabler for renewable energy supplies, agricultural systems, and climate friendly cities. Keeping water services factored into climate reduction will unlock a broad range of opportunities to help achieve our carbon reduction goals”

Navigating to net zero: Aotearoa’s water sector low carbon is being officially launched at Water New Zealand today (Friday, December 3, 12-1pm).

The launch will be via webinar and features a panel that includes world-leading expert on wastewater emissions reduction, Mikkel Holmen Anderson, speaking from Denmark. The session is being chaired by Brendon Green, Kaitiaki Advisory founder and Watercare director, and will include a panel of other water industry professionals and authors of the guide.

Navigating to net zero: Aotearoa’s water sector low carbon journey was developed by Water New Zealand’s Climate Change group, led by Jon Reed of Beca and co-authored by Chris Thurston of Watercare, Nick Dempsey of Mott McDonald, Catherine Taiapa of Armatec, Geoff Bennett of Carbon EMS, Rita Whitfield of Stantec, Fraser Clark of Wellington Water and Lesley Smith of Water New Zealand.

The guide is available here: Navigating to net zero: Aotearoa’s water sector low carbon journey or click here to register to attend the launch Navigating to Net Zero Launch - Webinar