Scotland's industrial water use: understanding recent changes and examining the future

Grant J. Allan, Scott J. McGrane, Graeme Roy, Thomas M. Baer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)
188 Downloads (Pure)


Future climate scenarios predict significant changes in the availability of water resources at global and regional scales. Knowledge of the possible economic consequences of this are limited by a shortage of data linking economic activity with physical water use. Matching a unique premise-level dataset to economic indicators at industrial/sector level, this paper undertakes a decomposition of changes in industrial water demand for Scotland between 2012 and 2016. Results highlight the importance of taking a sectoral approach, as changes in sectoral water intensity are significant. Furthermore, changes in the structure of the economy, i.e. a move away from water-intensive industries, highlight further reductions in overall water consumption. By considering future scenarios for Scottish water resources, this paper identifies key multi-disciplinary research challenges to address the major obstacles in developing a climate-ready water policy, which also captures the potential economic opportunities for Scotland from an awareness of the role of water in the economy.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)48-57
Number of pages10
JournalEnvironmental Science and Policy
Early online date30 Jan 2020
Publication statusPublished - 30 Apr 2020


  • industrial water use
  • index decomposition analysis
  • economy-wide analysis
  • Scotland


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