Climatic Change

, Volume 125, Issue 2, pp 209–220 | Cite as

The water impacts of climate change mitigation measures

  • Philip J. WallisEmail author
  • Michael B. Ward
  • Jamie Pittock
  • Karen Hussey
  • Howard Bamsey
  • Amandine Denis
  • Steven J. Kenway
  • Carey W. King
  • Shahbaz Mushtaq
  • Monique L. Retamal
  • Brian R. Spies


A variety of proposed activities to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions will impact on scarce water resources, which are coming under increasing pressure in many countries due to population growth and shifting weather patterns. However, the integrated analysis of water and carbon impacts has been given limited attention in greenhouse mitigation planning. In this Australian case study, we analyse a suite of 74 mitigation measures ranked as highest priority by one influential analysis, and we find that they have highly variable consequences for water quantity. We find: (1) The largest impacts result from land-based sequestration, which has the potential to intercept large quantities of water and reduce catchment yields, estimated to exceed 100 Mm3/MtCO2-e of carbon mitigated (100,000 l per tonne CO2-e). (2) Moderate impacts result from some renewable power options, including solar thermal power with a water cost estimated at nearly 4 Mm3/MtCO2-e. However, the water impacts of solar thermal power facilities could be reduced by designing them to use existing power-related water supplies or to use air or salt-water cooling. (3) Wind power, biogas, solar photovoltaics, energy efficiency and operational improvements to existing power sources can reduce water demand through offsetting the water used to cool thermal power generation, with minor savings estimated at 2 Mm3/MtCO2-e and amounting to nearly 100 Mm3 of water saved in Australia per annum in 2020. This integrated analysis significantly changes the attractiveness of some mitigation options, compared to the case where water impacts are not considered.


Mitigation Measure Water Saving Water Footprint Carbon Price Cost Curve 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

Supplementary material

10584_2014_1156_MOESM1_ESM.doc (142 kb)
ESM 1 (DOC 142 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Philip J. Wallis
    • 1
    Email author
  • Michael B. Ward
    • 1
  • Jamie Pittock
    • 2
  • Karen Hussey
    • 2
  • Howard Bamsey
    • 2
  • Amandine Denis
    • 3
  • Steven J. Kenway
    • 4
  • Carey W. King
    • 5
  • Shahbaz Mushtaq
    • 6
  • Monique L. Retamal
    • 7
  • Brian R. Spies
    • 8
  1. 1.Monash UniversityClaytonAustralia
  2. 2.The Australian National UniversityAustralian Capital TerritoryAustralia
  3. 3.Climate Works AustraliaVictoriaAustralia
  4. 4.The University of QueenslandBrisbane, QueenslandAustralia
  5. 5.The University of TexasAustin, TexasUSA
  6. 6.University of Southern QueenslandToowoomba, QueenslandAustralia
  7. 7.University of Technology SydneyBroadway, New South WalesAustralia
  8. 8.Independent ConsultantNew South WalesAustralia

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