Why water is the next carbon

Water has been quietly climbing its way up the agenda for some time now, but is it set to eclipse carbon as the most talked-about environmental issue?

While the carbon emissions contributing to the changing climate are undoubtedly a serious concern, as extreme weather events increase in frequency and severity it is likely to be water – too little and too much of it – that is a more immediate concern.

edie caught up with David Symons, director of consultancy WSP Environment & Energy, before his presentation at IWEX on Wednesday, Is water the next carbon?.

“Arguably in the short term water is more important than carbon,” he said.

“But the two are linked. Carbon emissions cause climate change. And one of the most significant impacts of climate change is forecast to be changing rainfall patterns and water availability as a result.”

He said that water use sometimes seemed to play second fiddle to the energy saving from the public and political perspective for a number of reasons.

Because Britain seen as a wet country, people can find it hard to accept that high population density makes water shortages a real issue.

Also, water is not seen as such a precious commodity as energy as it is comparatively inexpensive, so the commercial drivers as not seen as being so pressing.

And, he added, it is logistically harder to make significant water savings as, unlike with energy, most issues and opportunities arise in the supply chain and/or in downstream use of water by consumers.

Mr Symons said that on Wednesday he would be speaking on how water availability will change in the future and how much this matters as water is used in everything that we consume.

His presentation will cover how changing water patterns create business opportunities while also present dangers for the unprepared.

“Legislation will drive change as well,” he said.

“The Cave Review proposed different ways of allocating water rights in the UK. Water trading could become more significant, for example.”

Mr Symons is scheduled to speak at 10.50am on Wednesday in the IWEX seminar theatre at SustainabilityLive!

Sam Bond

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