How Can the Healthcare Sector Leverage its Economic Power to Address Climate Change?

By Viktor Jósa, Climate Policy & Projects Officer, Health Care Without Harm (HCWH) Europe​

The health sector is on the frontline when it comes to dealing with the ever-increasing effects of climate change; and yet the sector with a unique healing mission is also contributing to the problem through greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from its activities, undermining the health of the very populations it seeks to heal.

Towards a roadmap for Climate-smart Healthcare in Europe

Healthcare contributes with ~5% to global greenhouse gas emissions through energy consumption, transport, and product manufacture, use and disposal. The lion’s share of emissions come from the healthcare supply chain – the production, transport, and disposal of goods and services, such as pharmaceuticals and other chemicals, food and agricultural products, and medical devices, hospital

equipment and instruments. If the projected growth in health spending is not coupled with a decarbonisation strategy, we can expect healthcare’s carbon footprint to possibly triple between now and 2050. [World Bank, 2017]

Climate change not only damages the environment and human health, but also threatens the sustainability of our healthcare systems in Europe.


The IPCC’s 2018 report highlighted the need for swifter and more ambitious action if global temperature rises are to be kept below 1.5°C this century. Now is the time for the European healthcare sector to step up its efforts and take coordinated action to reduce its own GHG emissions, foster resilience to climate change at organisational and community level, and become a leading voice in wider international efforts to tackle this issue.


Join us in London this September for the first annual European Healthcare Climate Summit, where you will have the opportunity to come together with other sustainable healthcare leaders to share your experiences of tackling climate change in the European healthcare sector. Learn about proven solutions and opportunities for the sector to achieve measurable GHG reductions, gain inspiration from your peers to help enhance your own organisation’s response to climate change and contribute to the development of Climate-smart Healthcare in Europe by becoming part of our growing network.


During the Summit, we will be seeking your valuable insight and input to assist us in developing our new 2030 Roadmap for Climate-smart Healthcare in Europe. This roadmap will set out a new sector-wide vision and framework for action, creating momentum to accelerate progress towards effective climate action within the European health sector focused on our three Climate-smart healthcare goals:


Leadership – working towards system and supply chain transformation to drive innovation and change, and leveraging the voice of healthcare professionals to raise awareness and encourage wider community action on climate change.

Mitigation – mobilising greater action on CO2 reduction at an organisational level, with more rapid investment in carbon abatement solutions, greater clinical participation in carbon reduction efforts, and decarbonisation of the supply chain.


Resilience – equipping health providers with the tools and insight needed to become more resilient to the worst predicted impacts of climate change and empowering communities to do the same.

The summit will also be an opportunity to recognise existing leaders in Climate-smart Healthcare; sign up to HCWH’s Health Care Climate Challenge today and be part of a worldwide effort to tackle climate change. Contact eu****@hc**.org for more information.


Discover the programme and register here


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