U.S. Water Alliance partners with Denmark to cut emissions

April 28, 2022
A Memorandum of Understanding between the U.S. Water Alliance, the Embassy of Denmark in Washington, and the Danish Water and Wastewater Association will promote cross-cultural learning to reduce emissions in the water sector.

The U.S. Water Alliance, the Embassy of Denmark in Washington, and the Danish Water and Wastewater Association (DANVA), announced and signed a new Memorandum of Understanding regarding climate change.

Globally, water use and management is estimated to be responsible for up to 10 percent of greenhouse gas emissions. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency estimates that energy consumption used for drinking water and wastewater services emits more than 45 million tons of greenhouse gas annually in the U.S. alone.

The agreement aims to promote cross-cultural learning on climate mitigation strategies to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions across water management and operations. Specifically, the partners will explore opportunities for carbon sequestration, emissions reductions and offsets, energy optimization, and much more to support Net Zero water goals across the US.

"Partnering with the US Water Alliance and the organization's inspiring work to further the US water sector's Race to Zero is a great privilege,” said Henrik Bramsen Hahn, Deputy Chief of Mission at the Embassy of Denmark in Washington, D.C. in a press release. “The climate crisis does not recognize borders, and global partnerships are crucial in the effort to mitigate climate change. Denmark is committed to share our decades of experience with optimizing water management, and we are eager to bring inspiration from our U.S. partners back home."

All Hands on Deck

At the signing ceremony, Mami Hara, CEO of the U.S. Water Alliance, a national non-profit organization, joined Mr. Hahn and several water professionals from both sides of the Atlantic for a roundtable discussion.

"With less than a decade for meaningful climate action, we need all hands on deck to keep the planet's warming below 1.5˚C,” said Hara. “As water leaders around the world step up to this challenge, we can learn from each other in real time. We are excited to work closely with our new Danish partners to share best practices, innovate together, and accelerate Net Zero emissions goals."

In 2021, US Water Alliance founded an Imagination Team, including representatives from over 35 organizations to develop "Net Zero Plus," a shared vision and transformation to a climate-neutral U.S. water sector by 2050. The effort kicked off with an International Water and Climate Mitigation Symposium to learn from international water pioneers, including Denmark, about ongoing research for GHG emissions from water and to discover mitigation strategies that might be transferrable to the U.S.

The MoU signed at the Embassy will further support the Alliance's most recent national effort to implement the Net Zero Plus vision, a 10-City Utility GHG Reduction Cohort. The partnership will ground the peer-learning cohort in cross-cultural knowledge exchange and collaboration to advance shared goals of a climate secure future and resilient global water sector.

By learning from Danish counterparts, utilities in the U.S. will have access to additional expertise, ideas, and strategies being implemented in real-time. The Danish water sector is already well on its way to reaching climate-positive and energy-neutral water sector by 2030 — targets that support the Danish government's strategy to reduce GHG emissions 70 percent by 2030.

Peer to Peer Knowledge-Exchange

At the front and center of the new collaboration is sharing experience and expertise during peer learning exchanges. Activities will be facilitated through the Danish Water Technology Alliance, anchored at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Denmark. Additionally, the agreement will launch a close dialogue on regulatory frameworks for GHG reductions in water, national benchmarking systems, and Paris Agreement models for climate action through water.

"The agreement between the US Water Alliance, the Danish Water Technology Alliance, the Embassy of Denmark, and DANVA is an important step for the water sectors in the two countries to achieve the goal of becoming climate neutral,” said Carl-Emil Larsen, CEO of DANVA. “The degree of success in limiting emissions of GHG depends on the results we can achieve across national borders. No country, no sector, and no human being can solve the challenge alone. We look forward to collaborating with our colleagues in the U.S."