What it's about:
Efforts to help cities deal with shortages of clean water - from Australia to Chile and South Africa - are failing to take into account the amount of energy they gobble up, writes Peter Fisher, adjunct professor of global, urban and social studies at RMIT University.
City governments are turning to "increasingly expensive and energy-ravenous ways" to ensure supply as the planet warms, including desalination plants and bulk water transfers, he says.
But unless the energy usage and greenhouse gas emissions of those efforts, now being ramped up around the globe, are counted, they could threaten action to curb climate change, he argues.
"The water industry will increasingly be both a contributor to and a casualty of climate change," he notes.
Why it's noteworthy:
Fisher suggests a solution to the rising and largely untracked use of energy in the water sector, based on a form of carbon pricing.
Utilities could be monitored on the electricity they use per kilolitre of water processed, and rewarded or penalised accordingly, encouraging them to improve their environmental performance, from water supply to sewage treatment.
Either way, the water industry should be brought into discussions around strategic planning to reduce urban emissions, so that they can become active players in decarbonising cities, Fisher argues.
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