South East Water has joined the UN’s Race to Zero campaign, alongside 21 water utilities from the UK, Australia and New Zealand, committing to net zero emissions by 2050.

The campaign is playing an important role at the UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP26) which, for the first time ever, will have a dedicated water pavilion.

Melbourne’s metropolitan water utilities already aim to meet the Race to Zero target well ahead of time and have committed to identifying a pathway to net zero emissions by 2030.

South East Water Managing Director, Lara Olsen, said the race was on to protect the future of our planet and reach net zero emissions.

“We’re focused on creating a better world for our customers now, and for future generations. Net zero emissions are a key part of this and we’re proud to be joining others across the globe to help deliver this target,” Ms Olsen said.

“The water industry is a huge contributor to carbon emissions across the globe, but also at the forefront of trying to minimise the impacts of our operations. 

“We use significant amounts of electricity to deliver fresh clean water and to treat wastewater that gets flushed down the drain, but we also understand our obligation and duty to protect our environment and water sources.

“COP26 brings together some of the most innovative brains on the planet, but there are home grown innovations and projects which also reduce our emissions.

“Using emerging technology our biosolid to biochar collaboration reduces the emissions used to transport the product for agricultural use. 

“By adopting a circular economy approach and embracing innovation, technology and research we can achieve huge benefits for our environment, customers and community.”

 South East Water’s commitment to reducing carbon emissions also includes:

  • Installing solar panels at water recycling plants
  • Installing a combined heat and power unit running on biogas produced with organic matter, providing 40 per cent of the power for the Mt Martha Water Recycling Plant
  • Upgrading the Boneo Water Recycling Plant to generate and capture biogas, reducing the electricity needed to treat wastewater
  • Introducing hybrid vehicles into its fleet
  • Being an active partner in the Zero Emissions Water (ZEW) program purchasing approximately 10,000MWh of renewable energy from the Kiamal Solar Farm each year

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