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US and Danish water sector convene in Denmark to discuss race to zero emissions

Sunday 6 November, as COP27 took off, ten water utilities from across the US embarked upon a five-day greenhouse gas emissions and climate resilience benchmarking tour in Denmark. The site visit is part of a multi-year partnership between the US and Denmark to share best practices, develop innovative solutions, and accelerate the “Race to Zero” emissions campaign across the water sector.

Partnership between Denmark and the US Water Sector

In the effort to pave the way for Net Zero emissions and a resilient water sector, the US Water Alliance, the Embassy of Denmark in Washington, D.C., and the Danish Water and Wastewater Association signed a new Memorandum of Understanding on 27 April 2022. The agreement supports transatlantic efforts to lower climate impacts in the water sector through cross-cultural learning on climate mitigation strategies to reduce GHG emissions across water management and operations.

Globally, water use and management are estimated to be responsible for up to 10% of greenhouse gas emissions. In the US alone, energy consumption used for drinking and wastewater services emits more than 45 million tons of greenhouse gas annually. In a bipartisan agreement, the Danish parliament has set a target to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 70% by 2030. Additionally, the Danish water sector has set its own goal of becoming climate positive in 2030.

“Partnerships across national borders are vital in the effort to mitigate climate change. The climate crisis is borderless, and no country can solve it alone. The water sector is a significant contributor in building a sustainable future, and that is why we are thrilled to learn from the inspiring work the US Water Alliance is doing for the US water sector, as well as share our extensive experience with optimizing water management in Denmark. Together we can work to reach Net Zero,” says Christina Markus Lassen, Ambassador of Denmark to The United States.

“Water and wastewater utilities across Denmark are leaders in advancing sensible solutions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and building more climate resilient communities,” says Mami Hara, CEO of the US Water Alliance. “With less than a decade remaining to stem the climate tide, learning from one another and benchmarking across our geographies is critically important.”

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US-Danish cooperation in the “race to zero”

Danish utilities have worked for decades to optimize water management using benchmarking for energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions. By joining this peer exchange and learning from their Danish counterparts, US utilities are gaining needed access to time-tested solutions, benchmarking capabilities, and new partners.

“Greenhouse gas emissions know no boundaries, and neither should our learning and partnerships,” says Kishia Powell, Chief Operating Officer and Executive Vice President at DC Water and Chair of the US Water Alliance’s One Water Council.

“We’ve been working on our emissions reduction strategy, but what we will learn from this trip can help us advance our climate mitigation via firsthand engagement with our US and Danish counterparts.”

Participating US utilities include DC Water, Denver Water, KC Water, Madison Metropolitan Sewerage District, Metropolitan Council Environmental Services, Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, Miami-Dade Water and Sewer Department, New York City Department of Environmental Protection, Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District, Portland Water Bureau, and Seattle Public Utilities.

To learn more about the US Water Alliance’s Climate Action program and Net Zero Plus call-to-action, visit here.

Site visit at House of Green

State of Green welcomed the US delegation consisting of high-level decisionsmakers from ten of the biggest utilites from the US water sector.

The Danish Water Technology Alliance

The Water Technology Alliance (WTA) is a Danish public-private partnership committed to bridging the gap between the North American and Danish water sectors to share Danish know-how and foster collaboration. The Alliance is a part of The Trade Council at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Denmark, and the partners include public Danish water utilities, the Danish Environmental Protection Agency, and leading technology and service providers. Through visits, workshops and fact-finding trips, the WTA provides specialized knowledge about Danish solutions. Furthermore, the WTA facilitates and supports collaboration, pilot and flagship projects.

Read more about the Danish Water Technology Alliance

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