Decarbonising healthcare

Fifty countries have pledged to decarbonise their health systems by 2050. HPP is working with experts to find solutions that will help turn this ambition into a reality.

Decarbonisation Healthcare - Health Policy Partnership

Context

Health is significantly affected by climate change, but healthcare is also a large contributor, responsible for almost 5% of global greenhouse gas emissions. As countries commit to decarbonisation, health systems will have to adapt to help further that goal.

Health lies at the intersection of climate change and care. On the one hand, population health is vulnerable to the impacts of climate change: the most vulnerable groups – people with long-term illnesses, those affected by disasters caused by global warming, and people living in deprived areas – are most likely to be negatively impacted by rising global temperatures and air pollution. On the other hand, health systems are major contributors to climate change.

In recognition of this pressing issue, 50 countries pledged to decarbonise and improve resilience of their health systems to the effects of climate change at the 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26). Among these, 14 countries are striving for net-zero carbon emissions. Combating climate change is also a focus of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals.

Project resources

What we’ve achieved

In collaboration with AstraZeneca, HPP developed Decarbonising healthcare: a discussion paper, which was used to support conversations at the ‘Climate and health roundtable’ at Expo 2020 in March 2022. The paper outlines several areas where action could have a measurable effect on lowering the carbon footprint of health systems, including prevention, delivery of care, infrastructure, digital health and the supply chain. Insights drawn from the research were expanded on in interviews with a number of experts in health and sustainability.

In collaboration with an expert advisory group, HPP will further develop the discussion paper into a full policy paper and manuscript for peer-reviewed publication, to be published later in 2022.

Key partners and stakeholders

We thank the following individuals for generously giving their time and knowledge to inform this work so far:

  • Dr Fiona Adshead, Sustainable Healthcare Coalition
  • Dr Kristine Belesova, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine
  • Dame Polly Courtice, Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership
  • Alejandro Daly, El Derecho a No Obedecer
  • Dr Sue Henshall, City Cancer Challenge
  • Dr Kari Nadeau, Stanford University
  • Stephen Ogweno, Stowelink Inc.
  • Dr Stefan Swartling Peterson, Karolinska Institutet
  • Dr Jake Reynolds, Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership
  • Clare Shine, Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership
  • Abheet Solomon, UNICEF

Project funding

This project is supported with funding by AstraZeneca.

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