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Carbon Trust urges businesses to wake up to water waste

20 February 2013

The Carbon Trust has launched the world's first international award for water reduction to catalyse business action on measuring, managing and reducing water use.

Carbon reduction is no longer enough. According to the Carbon Trust and a number of leading business pioneers in water management, water is the new frontier in the battle against climate change and the devastating impact of depleting resources. The Carbon Trust is using this platform to urge businesses to reduce their water consumption as a matter of urgency.

In developing the methodology for this new award the Carbon Trust has worked closely with Sainsbury's, Coca-Cola Enterprises, Sunlight and Branston, four early adopters of the Carbon Trust Water Standard.

According to the Carbon Trust, businesses around the world are not acting fast enough, despite the fact that global water use is predicted to increase dramatically by 2030 to a level far exceeding current freshwater availability. Failure to act is exposing businesses to water scarcity issues down the line, which in some cases could lead to dramatically increased costs, or could grind operations to a standstill.

Interviews with 475 senior executives of large companies in the UK, USA, China, South Korea and Brazil found that only one in seven of those businesses has set a target on water reduction, or publicly reported on water performance.

Of those businesses that do see water as a priority risk, two-thirds listed water availability as an issue, although this figure was significantly higher in countries such as China (78 percent), Brazil (74 percent) and South Korea (75 percent). Some 86 percent were concerned that legislation is hovering on the horizon, as governments around the world assess the vulnerability of water resources, and review their policy on water scarcity.

By 2030 it is estimated that global freshwater demand will be 40 percent above the current supply. Climate change and pollution are already having a growing impact on the usable supply.

This was recognised at the UN Conference on Sustainable Development in Rio last year, with UN-Water issuing a statement that the "success of green economy depends on sustainable, integrated and resource-efficient management of water resources."

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