firms failing to link water and carbon

Large numbers of firms unaware that water use leads to increase in carbon footprint

More than 40 per cent of UK firms are unaware that water use contributes to their carbon footprint, according to a new survey from the Environment Agency.

An estimated one per cent of the electricity purchased in the UK is used to treat and provide water, resulting in carbon emissions of about four million tonnes. But according to the poll of 500 UK businesses, many remain unaware of the link and as a result are failing to prioritise efforts to curb water use.

The research also underlined the role utilities should play in promoting water efficiency with two thirds of respondents claiming that wanted more information from their supplier on how to save water, while 43 per cent said they would consider swapping suppliers based on their water efficiency performance.

Ian Barker, head of water at the Environment Agency said that the combination of population growth and climate change meant that businesses had no choice but to adapt their behaviour to create a more "sustainable balance" between demand and supply.

According to the Environment Agency, there is now less water per head of population in the south east than there is in Morocco, and various scientific reports have warned that droughts are likely to become more severe over the next few decades.

"It is enormously encouraging to see the strong demand for water efficiency advice from business leaders," said Barker. "Water companies, government, and regulators must work together to highlight the business benefits of water efficiency to industry and showcase best practice."

The poll was released in conjunction with the Environment Agency's annual Water Efficiency Awards, which aims to promote those firms that have delivered the biggest improvements in water efficiency. The deadline for entries to the awards is 15 May, with the ceremony scheduled to take place on 15 July.

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