New report; The Global Road Map for Health Care Decarbonization sets out steps the health care sector can take to decarbonize and reach net-zero emissions in line with the Paris Agreement’s goals. The health care system has an enormous carbon footprint, with most of those emissions due to the use of fossil fuel consumption in operations.

The carbon footprint of health care

4.4

Health care’s climate footprint is equivalent to 4.4% of global net emissions

514

The global health care climate footprint is equivalent to the annual greenhouse gas emissions from 514 coal-fired power plants.

5

If the health sector were a country, it would be the fifth-largest emitter on the planet

84

84% of the sector’s climate emissions are from fossil fuels used across facility operations, supply chain, and the broader economy.

Seven Climate Actions that the Health Sector Should Take

1. Power health care with 100% clean, renewable electricity.

Ensure that health care is powered by zero-emissions electricity across the three pathways.

2. Invest in zero-emissions buildings and infrastructure.

Ensure every health care building and health product manufacturing facility and their infrastructure promote energy efficiency, zero-emissions, and climate resilience.

3. Transition to zero-emissions, sustainable travel and transport.

Transition to 100% low or zero-emission vehicles and infrastructure while encouraging public transport for patients and staff wherever feasible.

4. Provide healthy, sustainably grown food for patients.

Provide healthy, locally, and sustainably produced fresh and seasonal food with zero food waste.

5. Incentivise and produce low-carbon pharmaceuticals.

Reduce unnecessary pharmaceutical use, substitute high emissions products with more climate-friendly alternatives, and incentivise affordable green, climate-smart medicine.

6. Implement circular health care and sustainable health care waste management.

Implement circular economy principles to procure supplies, deploy clean technologies, reduce the volume and toxicity of health care waste, and manage waste sustainably.

7. Establish greater health system effectiveness.

Reduce emissions by improving system effectiveness, including eliminating inefficient and unnecessary practices, linking carbon reduction and quality of care, and bolstering resilience.

Country Fact sheets

The Road Map also includes country fact sheets with national healthcare emission data and recommendations for government, international agencies, the private sector and civil society for achieving a healthier planet and better and more equitable health outcomes.

These 68 detailed fact sheets with information on each country’s health sector emissions and recommendations for achieving zero emissions health care.

You can access the report and all country factsheets here.