Understanding embodied greenhouse gas emissions in the water and sewerage sectors



M. Keil, Water Strategy, Severn Trent Water, Coventry, West Midlands, UK. Email: mike.keil@severntrent.co.uk


Embodied (or embedded) greenhouse gas emissions are commonly overlooked in corporate carbon accounting, although they can represent a large proportion of overall emissions. In this paper, we utilise embodied emission data submitted to Ofwat, the economic regulator of water and sewerage companies in England and Wales, as part of their review of price limits. This is the first time that water and sewerage companies have presented embodied emissions associated with their capital programmes. In total, embodied emissions add an extra 50% on top of companies' operational greenhouse gas emissions. We consider the drivers for embodied emissions and show that capital maintenance programmes are the largest source. We highlight the relationship between capital expenditure and embodied emissions, and discuss why there are significant differences in embodied emission intensities between companies. Many of the differences arise from the way the common methodology for estimating embodied emissions is applied.