Water is a necessary resource and a sufficient supply of clean water is essential to the health of both people and the environment.
Water has a very important role to play in climate change. Water covers more than 70% of the Earth's surface and water vapour, which acts as a greenhouse gas makes up a significant proportion of the Earth's atmosphere.
The availability of water is highly sensitive to changes in climate, and varies throughout the world. While some countries may take a plentiful supply of clean water for granted many people around the world do not have access to such a resource. Changes in temperature and rainfall patterns brought about by climate change will worsen the plight of many of the world's poorest people currently living in arid and semi-arid regions.
Global sea-level rises attributed to climate change will threaten coastal communities around the world particularly in low-lying island states. It is predicted that global sea-levels will rise by about 50cm by the end of the century predominantly due to warming and expansion of the world's oceans.
It is difficult to calculate the effect of water consumption on CO2 emissions, as there are different sources of water. However, most schools will get their water from a public water supply. This water needs to be treated and pumped to the school, with energy being consumed at each step. As for the energy theme, increased awareness and simple changes in habit can help lessen the amount of water we use, reducing our carbon footprint.
What You Can Do
We can reduce our water-related CO2 emissions through water saving measures both at school and at home, such as:
Calculate your water-related CO2 emissions
Use a carbon calculator to estimate your school's water-related carbon emissions. You can download one carbon calculator from the Irish Eco-Schools website www.greenschoolsireland.org or check for other carbon calculator that can be used in your country.
What you are trying to gauge is the number of litres of water consumed by the school. Most schools should have a water meter that can provide this information. Any schools that do not yet have a meter can estimate water consumption.
Source: HSBC Eco-Schools Climate Initiative Teachers' Manual