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Sustainability and Climate Change

Trusted to serve Scotland in a changing climate

Our purpose is to support the protection of public health and the environment through providing high quality affordable drinking water and safely managing society’s waste water. We do this whilst ensuring our services are affordable and support Scotland’s economy.

Water and waste water services are vital to a sustainable society. Our challenge is to find ways to be increasingly sustainable in how we deliver those services.

Our Sustainability Reports, published on this page, show examples of some of our achievements in supporting a sustainable Scotland. They also contain our annual Carbon Footprint Reports.

2017 Sustainability Report

We are delighted to share highlights from our 2017 Sustainability Report:

• Our carbon footprint continues to reduce, supported by further decarbonisation of grid electricity.
• 2016/17 saw us pass the milestone of 25,000 volunteer hours since the inception of our volunteering programme in 2011.
• Peat restoration work is protecting drinking water and improving habitat at Sandy Loch, Shetland.

Our Sustainability Report for 2017 has the theme ‘natural and social capital’. Natural capital considers the ‘services’ we gain from the environment – the water we drink, the air we breathe, the food we eat and the land on which we live, work and play – in terms of the health and resilience of the environment.

Social capital is harder to define. From a water industry perspective, it could be described as the relationships within and between organisations (including businesses), communities, groups of stakeholders (including customers) and other networks.

Examples of natural and social capital that we describe in our report include:

• Eradication of an invasive non-native species from a loch in Dumfries & Galloway
• Restoration of peat on Shetland
• A range of volunteering activities undertaken by Scottish Water employees

The report also provides details of our annual carbon footprint.

Carbon Footprint

We monitor and report our annual operational carbon footprint to help us understand how our emissions of greenhouse gases are accounted for by the different processes and activities within the business. Knowing our carbon footprint allows us to efficiently manage these emissions and to benchmark ourselves against the UK water industry as a whole.

Our operational carbon footprint (CFP) for 2016/17 fell by a further 38,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent (tCO2e) to 352,000; a reduction of nearly 10%. 

Since we began monitoring and reporting our carbon footprint in 2006/07, our annual emissions have fallen by 24%. 

The graph below shows the reduction in our footprint since 2006/07. It is notable that this long-term downward trend has been achieved alongside continued investment to deliver higher service levels, meet growth in demand, and improve statutory compliance.

Annual operational carbon footprints 2006/07 to 2016/17

Carbon Footprint 2017

Further details of our 2016/17 carbon footprint can be found in our Sustainability Report (pdf).

Scottish Water is committed to managing emissions and to ensuring all parts of our business consider carbon and wider sustainability within decisions and actions. To this end we have been developing our updated Carbon Management Plan to encourage and track actions that each area of Scottish Water can undertake to help mitigate our emissions.  Our Carbon Management Plan will be published shortly; in the meantime our Carbon Plan 2010 is available.

Read our Q and A for our approach to carbon.

If you have any further questions or comments, please Contact Us.

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