Guide to help health sector reach zero emissions by 2050

The Climate and Health Alliance (CAHA) and Global Green and Healthy Hospitals (GGHH) (Pacific Region) are set to launch Australia’s first ever road map to guide the health sector to zero greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs).

The report, Global Road Map for Health Care Decarbonization: a navigational tool for achieving zero emissions with climate resilience and health equity, produced by Health Care Without Harm and Arup, provides a road map for the global health sector to fully decarbonise in an equitable way.

To achieve the goal of zero GHGs, it’s said that Australia’s health sector will need immediate action through:

  • Powering healthcare with 100% renewable energy.
  • Investing in zero emissions buildings and infrastructure.
  • Transitioning to zero emissions transport.
  • Providing healthy and sustainably grown food.
  • Producing low-carbon pharmaceutical products.
  • Implementing circular and sustainable healthcare waste management.
  • Improving effectiveness of the health system.

“Australian states and territories have committed to net zero emissions by 2050, but do not have clear plans to get the health sector to net zero emissions, as the National Health Service in the UK have done. The latest science shows we must get to net zero emissions much earlier. As one of the biggest polluting sectors in Australia, it is critical that the health sector plays its part in cutting emissions to tackle climate change, the biggest health challenge we face,” says CAHA Sustainable Healthcare Program Manager and GGHH Pacific Region Coordinator, Carol Behne.

“This road map shows how the health sector can achieve zero emissions and uphold its moral imperative to ‘do no harm’. Many health institutions in Australia are working to reduce their emissions, and this road map provides a comprehensive guide for how to rapidly scale this up. But we must see government policy to guide and help accelerate these efforts.

“The Global Road Map comes at a time when ambitious carbon reduction targets are being announced by Australian health services, like Hunter New England Local Health District, Ambulance Victoria and UnitingCare Queensland. We want to see a national commitment to implementing the Road Map strategies across all health services.”

UnitingCare Queensland Manager Environmental Sustainability, Judene Andrews adds: “We are committed to working towards a healthy, more equitable and greener world. We are thrilled to see that this world-first zero emissions guide aligns with our ambitious targets, including improving energy efficiency, sourcing all electricity from renewable energy, and more.

“Action on climate change is crucial to protect health, and we encourage all Australian healthcare organisations to integrate the road map key actions into their sustainability plans.”

Reportedly, Australia’s health sector produces 30-35 megatonnes of GHGs annually, or 5-7% of Australia’s total GHGs.

Australia’s healthcare per capita GHGs are the third highest of the 68 countries examined.

The road map shows how global health care can reduce GHGs by 44 gigatons over 36 years, equivalent to keeping over 2.7 billion barrels of oil in the ground each year.

For more information and to read the report, visit: healthcareclimateaction.org/roadmap

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