Links Between Sanitation, Climate Change and Renewable Energies

April 2012

Sustainable sanitation projects can contribute to both climate change mitigation (through energy or nutrient recovery) and to climate change adaptation (through innovative sanitation systems and wastewater management).

Measures of renewable energy production consist basically of either biogas production from waste water or biomass production through the use of waste water to grow short rotation plantations for firewood. Biogas can also be used for heat generation while heat exchangers can recover heat energy from wastewater in sewers. Measures of nutrient recovery are primarily based on nitrogen reuse. Adaptation measures in the area of sanitation aim at coping with increasing water scarcity or flooding.

By using reuse-oriented sanitation systems with energy, nutrient or wastewater recovery and reuse, anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions can be reduced (mitigation) as well as people’s capacity to cope with climate change impacts can be increased (adaptation).

In cases where these measures for reduction of greenhouse gases are achieved in developing countries, the emission allowances can be sold on the international emissions trading market and thus can contribute additional financial benefits. In order to be financially viable, there is a minimum project scale due to fixed transaction costs, with project bundling the minimum scale can be achieved.

This factsheet emphasises the need for climate change mitigation and adaptation measures in the area of sanitation. In addition, it provides an overview of the possibilities of using sanitation systems for renewable energy production, nutrient recovery and it explains the financial benefits that emission trading can bring.

Additional details

PublisherSustainable Sanitation Alliance
ThemesClimate change, Climate finance, Mitigation, Vulnerability, resilience and adaptation

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