Friday, April 9, 2010

Water quality, scarcity increasingly becoming business risks

Amy Westervelt in SolveClimate: Water has been predicted as “the next big thing” in environmental issues for a while now, and the prediction looks to be coming true. Amid concerns that climate change and a growing global population are putting pressure on an already scarce resource, the Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP) announced this week that it is calling on companies to begin reporting on their water use as well as their carbon emissions.

…According to Marcus Norton, who heads up the new CDP Water Disclosure program, companies and investors began coming to CDP in 2008 saying that while carbon was important for companies to manage, in some cases water was equally, if not more, important.

To address the concerns of its stakeholders, CDP launched a water disclosure pilot that ran through 2008 and 2009 and included responses from about 40 companies about their water use. That pilot formed the basis of the CDP Water Disclosure Program, which has asked 302 companies within CDP’s Global 500 (the top 500 companies in the world by market cap) to report on water. The initial companies chosen are all in either water-intensive industries or water-constrained areas, or both, according to Norton.

The resulting questionnaire, comprised of 91 requests for information, is based on the indicators included in the framework of the Global Reporting Initiative. But Norton explains that the CDP questionnaire takes it a step further: “The way GRI works, companies have to report on a global level; we mirror that, but invite them to break down those global levels as they deem appropriate — by country, region or business unit. The intention is to move the debate forward at a pace that companies are comfortable with."…

USGS image of water-filled pothole in Grand Wash, in the Capitol Reef National Park in Utah

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