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IPCC warns that more needs to be done to address water scarcity



The head of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has warned that the world is still not doing enough to address the challenges associated with water scarcity, which is set to worsen because of climate change.

According to Reuters, Rajendra Pachauri, chair of the IPPC, told delegates at the conference, “Unfortunately, the world has not really woken up to the reality of what we face in terms of the crises as far as water is concerned.

“If you look at agricultural products, if you look at animal protein – the demand for which is highly water intensive. At the same time, on the supply side, there are going to be several constraints. Firstly, because there are going to be profound changes in the water cycle due to climate change.”

A previous study conducted by the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory warned that without climate change mitigation policies, half of the world could face extreme water scarcity before the end of the 21st century. The researchers added that some climate policies, such as increasing the use of biofuels, could further exacerbate the potential water crisis.

The energy industry also uses a considerable amount of water, and the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) recently noted that meeting renewable energy targets would save water. In England and Wales the electricity sector account for half of total water withdrawals, including 40% of all freshwater withdrawals.

Pachauri continued that utilising and developing technology that reduced water consumption was vital, in particular he highlighted the agriculture sector, noting that there is a lot of waste.

He added, “Naturally, [the water crisis] is going to lead to tensions – probably some conflict between riparian groups and riparian states.”

Photo: Dave Millet via Flickr 

Further reading:

Half of world could face extreme water scarcity by 2095

Climate change puts more people at risk of water scarcity

A world without water: Financial Times counts the cost of water scarcity

Water scarcity and steep energy costs ‘biggest risk’ to mining industry

Report: achieving renewable energy targets could address water challenges