In regions where distributing water requires significant electricity use, policies that help save water could address climate change more efficiently than requiring consumers to use less energy, according to water expert Peter Gleick. "Some of the cheapest greenhouse gas emission reductions available seem to be not energy-efficiency programs, but water-efficiency programs," said Gleick, president of the California-based Pacific Institute.
The virtues of water efficiency can be seen in China and California, where water shortages have become emergencies and droughts may worsen with climate change. In China, the government is seeding clouds to encourage rain and redirecting portions of the Yangtze and Yellow rivers to the drought-stricken North, a project that will require a significant amount of energy once completed.
In California, water transportation, storage, and treatment account for some 19 percent of the state's electricity, according to a 2007 California Energy Commission report To reach southern...