Government action

Toward net-zero, climate-resilient health care

Policy for climate and health

Since COP26 in Glasgow, momentum has grown among governments, international agencies, and non-state actors to align health sector development with the ambition of the Paris Agreement. In Glasgow, Health Care Without Harm helped secure commitments from 52 national health ministries to resilient, sustainable, low-carbon health systems through the COP26 Health Programme.

In 2022 the Alliance for Transformative Action on Climate and Health (ATACH) was established to realize the ambition set at COP26 using the collective power of WHO Member States and other stakeholders. As of May 2024, 82 countries - 38 of which are committing to net zero health systems - have joined ATACH, where Health Care Without Harm sits on the Steering Committee. 

In May 2022, G7 health ministers publicly committed “to build environmentally sustainable and climate-neutral health systems at the latest by 2050 and to support other countries in this effort.” Collectively, the overlapping commitments made by ATACH and the G7 comprise nearly half (48%) of global health care climate emissions.

G20 Sherpa, Amitabh Kant speaking at the G20 Health Working Group Side Event on Climate and Health
G20 Sherpa, Amitabh Kant speaking at the G20 Health Working Group side event on Climate and Health. Photo: Health Care Without Harm.

In 2023, Health Care Without Harm supported the Asian Development Bank in developing a set of principles and organizing a side event at the G20 Health Working Group meeting in the state of Goa, India, on climate and health to foster climate resilient health development, low-carbon health systems, decarbonized supply chains, finance for climate and health, and One Health. The G20 Ministers of Health subsequently reflected these principles in their declaration as did the G20 Heads of State in the New Delhi Leaders’ Declaration (para 28iii). This was the first time in history that a group of heads of state has endorsed health care climate action and their commitment covered 75% of global health care climate emissions.

In 2024 Health Care Without Harm has continued to work with the Asian Development Bank to support Brazil’s G20 presidency as it prioritizes climate in the Health Working Group and prepares for COP30.

In addition to these collaborations, Health Care Without Harm works to bring the health voice to a number of international fora and negotiations related to climate and health. These include the World Health Assembly, which recently passed a resolution on climate and health, the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) where a health declaration received support from 150 health ministries during COP28, the intergovernmental negotiations towards the adoption of an International Plastics Treaty, and the initiative to negotiate and adopt a fossil fuel non-proliferation treaty.

Health Care Without Harm and its partners around the world also work with national and subnational governments and health institutions on every continent to develop policy frameworks and implementation plans for low-carbon, climate-resilient health systems. The following is a cross-section of some of our initiatives.