New global tool for decarbonising healthcare launched

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Health Care Without Harm, in collaboration with Arup, has announced a navigational tool for achieving zero emissions in healthcare by 2050.

According to the creators of the ‘Global Road Map for Health Care Decarbonization: a navigational tool for achieving zero emissions with climate resilience and health equity’, health care’s climate footprint is already substantial, equalling 4.4% of net global emissions.

Without climate action inside and outside the sector, the authors report, health care’s climate emissions would reportedly more than triple to over six gigatons a year by 2050, equal to annual emissions from 770 coal-fired power plants.

Josh Karliner, international director of program and strategy, Health Care Without Harm, and co-author of the Road Map, commented: “We’re experiencing the climate and health emergencies as one and the same, including increases in respiratory illness from fossil fuel pollution and those caused by dire climate impacts such as wildfires.

“Health care bears the brunt of these two crises while also, ironically contributing to them through its own emissions. It’s imperative for health leaders to lead by example and act now to reach zero emissions by 2050. The Road Map charts a course in that direction.”

The new Global Road Map finds that 84% of the sector’s climate emissions are from fossil fuels used across facility operations, supply chain, and the broader economy.

This use includes coal, oil, and gas to power hospitals, health care-related travel, and the manufacture and transport of health care products.

According to the creators, the Road Map demonstrates how health care can implement seven high-impact actions to further reduce sector emissions by 44 gigatons over 36 years, equivalent to keeping more than 2.7 billion barrels of oil in the ground each year.

The Road Map is also stated to identify distinct trajectories for health care decarbonisation for different nations.

Sonia Roschnik, international climate policy director at Health Care Without Harm, and Road Map co-author, added: “All countries’ health systems will need to reach zero emissions by 2050 while at the same time achieving global health goals.

“Many health systems in low- and middle-income countries will require support from developed economies to facilitate access to the necessary solutions during this transition.”

The Road Map can be found from the Healthcare without Harm website.