Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (Published online before print Nov. 16, 2015; doi: 10.1073/pnas.1507701112) / by Robert Alan Hollan, et al.
Understanding the role of international trade in driving pressures on freshwater resources is key to meeting challenges at the water–energy nexus. A coupled trade and hydrological model is used to examine pressures on freshwater resources associated with energy production across the global economy. While the electric and gas sectors induce freshwater consumption predominantly within countries where demand originates (91% and 81%, respectively), the petroleum sector exhibits a high international footprint (56%). Critical geographic areas and economic sectors are identified, providing focus for resource-management actions to ensure energy and freshwater security. Our analysis demonstrates the importance of broadening the discourse on energy policy to address issues including freshwater scarcity, the role of international trade, and wider environmental and societal considerations.