First Estimate of Healthcare’s Global Climate Footprint Established

Establishing the first-ever estimate of healthcare’s global climate footprint, the new report, “Health care climate footprint,” finds healthcare’s footprint is equivalent to 4.4% of global net emissions (2 gigatons of carbon dioxide equivalent).

To put this in perspective, global healthcare emissions are equivalent to the annual greenhouse gases produced by 514 coal-fired power plants.

Hospitals, health systems and their supply chains in the United States, China and collectively the countries of the European Union, comprise more than half of healthcare’s worldwide emissions, with the U.S. health sector being the world’s No. 1 GHG emitter in both absolute and per capita terms.

Healthcare’s climate footprint makes the case for a transformation of the healthcare sector that aligns it with the Paris Agreement goal of limiting climate change to 1.5 C. Being released simultaneously at events around the world, the report outlines immediate actions that stakeholders from across the health sector can take, concluding that health promotion, disease prevention, universal health coverage and the global climate goal of net zero emissions must become intertwined.

“The health sector must become climate smart,” says Gary Cohen, founder of Health Care Without Harm. “Both climate justice and health equity depend on it.” View the report here:

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Posted September 16, 2019

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