Managing catchments to reduce GHG emissions as well as improve water quality has the potential to generate a multi-million pound revenue stream if catchment initiatives can be monitored effectively and marketed to potential sponsors.
The water industry is investing £50M in catchment management in AMP5 and planning significant additional investment in AMP6. These catchment initiatives have the potential to increase carbon sequestration and reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from land, which presents water companies with an opportunity to reduce their GHG footprint, attract sponsorship from the private sector, and potentially trade carbon units. To realise these benefits, companies need to establish robust methodologies for measuring GHG fluxes and exploit emerging markets for ecosystem services.
Business sponsorship of catchment initiatives, motivated by corporate social responsibility, has the potential to generate a multi-million pound revenue stream. A consistent and verifiable approach to measuring and valuing the GHG benefits of water company catchment initiatives will increase credibility with customers, shareholders, stakeholders and regulators and provide stronger justification for continued investment in catchment management.
WRc will evaluate the opportunity presented by catchment management by systematically examining how water company catchment initiatives influence GHG sequestration and emissions. Current approaches for quantifying the benefits of catchment initiatives will be signposted and critically reviewed to assess their applicability to water companies. Finally, the project will explore how carbon credits can be valued, marketed to corporate investors and traded on the off-setting market. This will provide participating companies with a clear assessment of the potential of their current and planned catchment initiatives and practical guidance on how to realise the financial benefits.
The recent establishment of a new Peatland Code, and recognition of the Woodland Carbon Code in Defra’s Environmental Reporting Guidelines, demonstrate the growing interest in land-based carbon off-setting schemes. The project will be undertaken by WRc and Dr Mark Reed, a Peatland Code expert at Birmingham City University, who together bring the necessary expertise in catchment management, carbon accounting and ecosystem service markets to enable companies to take full advantage of these new opportunities.