Sunday, April 10, 2011

Water footprint: How much water is there in a 0.5 l soda

Well you might believe it is like 0.495 l. But according to the water foodprint methodology it is some 170 liters to 310 liters....
I posted something on water pricing the other day, and here comes a bit more on water.
There is the concept of water foot print or why not call it "waterprint", which is an indicator of freshwater use that looks at both direct and indirect water use of a consumer or producer. Recently a standard for the calculation of water footprint is developed

Some facts and figures

  • The production of one kilogram of beef requires 16 thousand litres of water. There is a huge variation around this global average. The precise footprint of a piece of beef depends on factors such as the type of production system and the composition and origin of the feed of the cow.

  • To produce one cup of coffee we need 140 litres of water. This, again, is a global average. 
    There are of course differences between countries, but the water footprint doesn't differ as much between poor and rich countries as many other resources uses.  The Americans use about four times as much water per person than the people in the countries with the smallest water footprint, e.g. in Yemen. The water footprint of China is about 700 cubic meter per year per capita. Only about 7% of the Chinese water footprint falls outside China.Japan with a footprint of 1150 cubic meter per year per capita, has about 65% of its total water footprint outside the borders of the country. The USA water footprint is 2500 cubic meter per year per capita.

Derk Kuiper is executive director of the Water Footprint Network, an organisation established in the Netherlands in 2008 to promote sustainable and equitable water use worldwide by promoting the water footprint. in an Interview he says that:

 In the sustainability assessment, water footprint uses the concept of sustainability boundaries – which is about how to actually sustain the environmental and social benefits associated with your water. And if you start pricing those you can actually balance them much better against the economic activities that are taking place on the basis of water.
An interesting, and for me a bit disturbing, perspective is that: 
It is generally accepted that emissions of greenhouse gasses, such as CO2 from fossil energy carriers, are responsible for anthropogenic impacts on the climate system. In this context, there has been a remarkable shift in policy attitudes towards CO2-neutral energy carriers such as biomass. The production of biomass for food and fibre in agriculture requires about 86% of the worldwide freshwater use. In many parts of the world, the use of water for agriculture competes with other uses such as urban supply and industrial activities. In a scenario of increasing degradation and decline of water resources, a shift from fossil energy towards energy from biomass puts additional pressure on freshwater resources. says the

Farmers don't want to pay - surprised?
With overexploitation of water rife in agriculture, making farmers pay real prices for publicly managed irrigation systems could push them to avoid waste and adopt more sustainable practices, argues the European Environment Agency (EEA).According to the agency, water pricing is "the core mechanism" for making agricultural water use more efficient, and research shows that farmers reduce irrigation and adopt water efficiency practices when illegal extraction is effectively policed and water paid for by volume.
The EU agricultural association Copa-Cogeca recognises that agriculture is a big user of water, especially in Southern Europe, but underlines that "the upward trend for use of water for irrigation has slowed down in several countries during recent years," while "water-use efficiency in agriculture is improving every year" due to the modernisation of irrigation systems. Copa-Cogeca is wary about water pricing, which "can bring about more negative effects to the agricultural sector than to other economic sectors, which can more easily pass on the costs for the use of water resources to the end-consumer," it said. Read more

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