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Leading companies from around the world, including a major Australian water company, are signing the United Nations (UN) Global Compact pledge in an effort to prevent worldwide temperature increases of more than 1.5 degrees Celsius by 2050 – a change that poses significant issues, including the risk of water scarcity.

Yarra Valley Water has signed the Global Compact pledge, which coincides with the 25th annual United Nations Climate Change Conference. According to Managing Director, Pat McCafferty, signing the pledge is consistent with the organisation’s climate change goals and current emissions reduction strategy.

“As a water utility, we’re very aware of the risk that climate change poses for our core business. A hotter and drier climate increases the risk of water scarcity, especially as Melbourne’s population rises and the demand for water grows,” Mr McCafferty said.

As part of signing the UN pledge, Yarra Valley Water will develop science-based targets to help guide its activities towards net-zero emissions and preventing temperature rise above 1.5 degrees Celsius.

Yarra Valley Water is already well on its way to cost-effectively producing 100 per cent of its own renewable energy by 2025 by investing in key projects which are driving down its greenhouse gas emissions and reliance on traditional forms of electricity.

Yarra Valley Water’s flagship environmental project is its waste-to-energy plant which has been operating for over two years. The facility has converted more than 63,000 tonnes of commercial food waste into renewable energy capable of powering 1,500 homes.

The plant generates 25 per cent of Yarra Valley Water’s electricity requirements, delivering savings in energy costs and producing 90 per cent less greenhouse gas than if Yarra Valley Water used fossil fuel from the grid, and saves 8,500 tonnes of carbon per year.

Solar panels that generate energy for Yarra Valley Water’s head office, treatment plants and electric vehicle fleet, combined with a long-term power agreement with a solar farm in northern Victoria, are also enabling Yarra Valley Water to make strides towards its goal of producing 100 per cent of its own energy by 2025.

Signing the pledge follows Yarra Valley Water becoming the first water utility in Australia to commit to the UN Global Compact and Sustainable Development Goals.

Pat McCafferty said that Yarra Valley Water is looking beyond being carbon neutral and exploring options for creating economically viable environmental value in the future.

“We’ve moved from compliance, to creating zero negative impact and we are now working towards becoming regenerative and creating extra value for the environment,” Mr McCafferty said.

“We have been on a continual path of exploration, learning by doing and we are committed to increasingly bolder ambitions for the environment in the future.”

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