UN Report: Water and Energy Face Off on an Uneven Playing Field
The world’s growing hunger for energy, particularly in booming China, India, and the Middle East, will increase the potential for conflicts over water resources, according to a United Nations report on the connections between water use and energy consumption.
Though the production and consumption of each resource influences the other, current economic policies and political preferences skew the competition heavily in favor of energy, states the fifth edition of the World Water Development Report, released Friday in conjunction with World Water Day.
Examples of energy’s dominance abound. For instance, the desire for biofuels, driven by government targets, is adding new demands to the water footprint of agriculture, consumer of 80 percent of the water that humans use. Massive hydroelectric dams are pinching nerves from the Amazon Basin to the Nile River and the Mekong Delta. And fossil fuel subsidies – both to producers and consumers – pump up demand and deplete and pollute already-stressed water systems.